Broadcasting, Comedy

Never work with children or animals… or Apps.

Do you listen to Farming Today on Radio 4?


It’s on at 5.45 a.m.

They produced an absolute belter this morning, a moment of unintended comedy gold.

The show is fronted by a female trio, who take it in turns to present, produce and report on the various topics they cover.

Despite their obvious sector expertise, all three have delightfully RP BBC voices, that contrast spectacularly with the accents of their rural interviewees, which span the divide from mildly agricultural to positively wurzel-y.

Today Charlotte (sic) Smith was presenting a feature on a new “App.” designed to teach pig handling to apprentice farmers.

The producers had obviously had a lot of fun in the studio with the app. and played us a clip on the segment intro. in which its electronic voice explains, rather pompously, “You will often see piglets carried by their hind legs… but this is not considered ‘best practice’.

The programme then cuts to Charlotte on a farm, armed with her App. as she clambers gingerly into the farrowing pen to test out its advice.

She picks up one of the piglets in the manner recommended by the App (round the tummy) and is rewarded with only a very mild squeal of outrage from the indignant porker.

“Ooh, I’ve never picked up a piglet before,” she exclaims proudly.

But the unforgiving App. has already moved onto lesson 2.

“Check its anus,” it commands loudly and robotically.

You could feel the producer jumping for the fader, but it was too late.

Advertising, Marketing Strategy

Are you being a good parent to your brand?

I’m continually perplexed by some brand owners’ attitudes to their assets.

They starve them of support. They teach them no new tricks. They give them nothing to say. And they still expect them to deliver.

They seem to think they can survive on air.

The same people who will agonise about whether to spend thousands of pounds privately educating their children (or spend even more thousands of pounds moving to a house within the catchment area of a good ‘free’ school) seem to feel clever if they can squeeze performance out of their brands, without preparing them for the competitive environment in which they have to live.

It’s a bit like sending your kids to school with no breakfast and no books, and giving yourself a pat on the back.

Tomorrow you could see if they succeed in getting to school with no shoes?

I’ve noticed that successful people with bright kids don’t say, “Oh well, little Ruby’s so clever, we don’t need to bother educating her”.

“I know! Let’s see if she can still win the junior poetry prize, after not eating for a week?”

Instead they teach her to swim and play chess. They drive her to ballet classes and buy her a pony. All so she can out-compete the other overachieving super-kids she’s up against.

Even the strongest need food to remain strong. Even the most innovative need to move forward to stay relevant. Even the luckiest need an edge to make sure they stay in front.

So if you’re in the brand business, why not ask yourself if you’re doing as much for your brand, as your brand is doing for you?

Are you treating it like your future and giving it every chance to succeed in a world that’s getting more and more competitive? Are you helping it talk about relevant things and dress in a way that doesn’t get it poked and laughed at?

Or are you starving it and beating it and expecting it to work harder and harder, in the same crushed velveteen flares that you bought it in the 1970s?