Monday, 7 May 2007

Don't tell!

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.


dulwichmum said...

I am sure some super South African wine could help with your home sickness. Couldn't they pay for that instead? Much more fun!

The Good Woman said...

Absolutely! I'm currently blowing a fortune keeping myself stocked with my favourite tipple (Iona Sauvignon Blanc, by the way).

lady macleod said...

You are an African in Scotland, I am a Scot in Africa. I enjoyed this entry and shall read further.

I miss the rain, the mist, the fog. I love the sky here, my little house, and the warmth of the people.

The Good Woman said...

I miss the African sky, the space, the colour. But, I fear, when I leave Scotland, I'll miss the warmth of these people too.

lady macleod said...

As I pulled up the forecast this morning and saw the ninety degree number, I thought about you! If you are still chilly, pack up the baby and catch a flight. Apparently we are going to have sunshine to share today.

Gwen said...

All this talk of warmth is lovely. Here in Glasgow the weather has just broken and its back to rain and cold. To make matters worse I have an event to go to on Saturday which requires me to wear a flimsy dress outdoors. We organisers are starting to panic. We are in big trouble if we get a downpour.

Annie said...

I stumbled on your blog via topblogmag - so glad I did. I lived in Zambia, (born in Zimbabwe), grew up and worked in Ireland, spent a spell in Glasgow working for marketing communications department of the parent company of Clydesdale Bank in Buchanan Street, and despite my career plans, I too have found myself in another country (USA) married, staying at home with two kids. The paralells in reading this were uncanny - I'll be reading more!