Whilst at a multi-age gathering during the Christmas and New Year break, us of a certain age were bemoaning the fact that there just aren’t any good tv ads any more. Why was this? we demanded, chucking back the mulled wine with calls of ‘It’s eleven thirty…diet coke break..’ and ‘We just want to be together’ (best Brummie accent required), the reminiscences of which were received with blank and stony faces by the under 45’s in the group. Tsk tsk. Is that what the internet has done to us? Robbed us of the sparkling ingenuity used by the ad men to make us buy stuff? Not so – now it’s all online I was told – the good ads, that is. Bigger louder funnier – all online. There was a time I’m sure you can recall, when the ads were better than the programmes themselves… those programmes which are now being wheeled out as Bests Of, and punctuated by the talking heads of knowledgeable tv insiders. What was rubbish once is still rubbish now; back then we just had those damned good adverts to take our minds off how rubbish the programmes actually were. I mean, who in their right mind thought a semi-naked man painted orange and slapping people’s faces was a good idea?! Kevin from down our way ended up in a+e with a black eye and a punctured ear-drum two days after the first Tango Man ad was aired, when Dodgy Dave from the estate Tangoed him. I guess I understand why that ad was pulled – but hey! sales orange tango soared. I wonder if any of those tangoed by a sugary drink ended up as dentists? Just a thought. But anyway, where is this leading I hear you ask.
Well… last week I accompanied a nervous friend to a pitching session at a local agents’ get-together who where looking, unsurprisingly, for local authors. He got the book pitch down to a T but sadly fell at the first fence when asked to advertise himself.
“So what makes you so special?” asked Agent Ruthless. “Go on. Advertise your self.” I expect you can hear the breeze-heavy tumble-weed from there, can’t you? The answer “I…er…” wasn’t a show stopper and I can confirm, that even from the cheap seats, I could see that none of the agents were at any point Tangoed. Understanding that to be a writer these days means you also have to be Out There, packaged and available, blogged-up and ready to rockn’n’roll 24/7 can put you off a bit, if all you want to do is write. Leave the advertising to someone else. But my writer friend, his ego as well as his confidence dented to such an extent that even returning to the the bar five or six times later that evening didn’t help, is not one of those people. He’s a brilliant writer, but still at the beginning of his tortuous, relentless and unforgiving career – sorry – did I say that out loud? I meant….but is at the beginning of his wonderful, satisfying and creative career and has absolutely no idea how to advertise himself. By the fourth visit to the bar we had started to write pitches, and then loglines, of ourselves. You should give it a go. With or without beer/wine/gin/poison of your choice. Once his confidence was on the up again, we came up with ‘Brilliant Writer Seeks Brilliant Readers’, which does have a bit of ring to it I have to admit. Another attempt, ‘I Write, You Read – Every One’s A Winner!’ was more of a filler whilst we waited for the peanuts.
But my poor old writer chum – he won’t be pushing himself out there, unashamedly telling everyone how good he is – he’s just not that sort of guy. Oh dear. There may be trouble ahead…