Posts by Guy Murphy - London

P&O Ferries attempts to sell the holiday category

Here’s an attempt by P&O Ferries from the U.K. to encourage people to take a holiday because they’re having to work so tirelessly during the recession. The TV advertisement, which is part of a full campaign, focuses on a dog groomer accompanied by the line “Because you’ve been working like a dog,” a florist with “Because Britain isn’t blooming” and butcher with “Because you haven’t sold a sausage all year.” All dreadful puns, but we get the message.

The PR for this campaign states that it is trying to put some pride back into Britain. The interesting thing here is the generic promotion of holidays, which many people will be deferring as a luxury. The nudge from P&O is that a holiday is important reward for all that hard work, and it needn’t be too expensive. As the recession pits category against category as much as brand versus brand, this seems like a relevant message, if very difficult to brand.

Pun your way out of trouble

kc_gmKenneth Cole is becoming notorious for pun-filled copy that makes light of current events (after 9/11, Cole famously put up a billboard in New York reading “God Dress America”). Now the American clothing retailer is adopting the light-hearted approach to appeal to the credit-strapped consumer during the most difficult economic situation in living memory. “The future is about to be redressed,” reads one store window, while another urges us to “Avoid bare markets.” (Bare = bear, geddit?) Men are told to “Cover your ass-ets,” women to “Become a stimulus package.”

Are we to think the Kenneth Cole brand is so crassly shallow that we should buy from it out of sympathy? Or are consumers, tired of the doom-laden hyperbole, ready to gravitate to a brand that’s making a joke of it all? What is the role of humor for a brand in an anxious world? Maybe it is in Mr. Cole’s ken.