In my former life, before Zambia, Scotland, child and housewifery, I worked in advertisng. I wasn't a creative, but, rather, a strategist. So I didn't do drugs. I say this to clarify the unique approach I have to observing advertising to this day. Well, unique to strategists that is. What I am about to share with you is actually a trade secret. As I no longer work in the trade, I don't care.
Advertisements, carefully watched, can tell you more about yourself and the things you value than an experienced psychoanalyst. An easy example of this would be Playhouse Disney who advertise a range of overpriced plastic toys, home insurance and cosmetics. The toys are targetted at the children who are fully expected to whine at their parents until the object of their desires makes it over the threshold and onto the pile of unused toys in your living room. The home insurance and cosmetics are targetted directly at you, dear Mom. Concerned for your children's futures and desparate to remove the stretch marks? Those advertisers just know that you secretly watch Dora while little Sally reads stories to Baby Annabelle.
But recently I have begun to suspect that Capetonians living in the UK are a distinct target market - all studiously watching the same shows as me. Emerging from a dark, cold winter that tests our understanding of endurance, we are all longing for the light, the mountains, the rocks on Clifton beach, and advertisers know that we are easy prey.
I know, in my heart, not to take this personally. It's practical, really. You see, Cape Town is in the southern hemisphere (I'm hoping that doesn't sound condescending - it isn't meant to), which means that it is enjoying a balmy summer while this island is in the darkest depths of winter. When outdoor filming in the UK is dissolving in 3 metres of rain, the industry in Cape Town is booming with European producers keen to get ads in the can before spring promotions.
Now it is Spring and I can spot a South African in Tesco at 100 yards. Firstly, they're still wearing fleeces, coats, and scarves. But they've also developed a sudden and overwhelming desire to eat Kelloggs for breakfast, with a Muller yoghurt, while they talk on T-Mobile contracts and waft through a mist of Nivea deodorant. I also suspect they may be buying garden furniture from Homebase.
I know it's not personal, but just so as you know dear advertising folk, I may need therapy to get over the homesickness. And I hold you responsible.