Never Mind The Bollocks.

Bollocks is the currency of advertising.

That is the inescapable conclusion I reached after reading my emails this morning.

First, was an invitation to promote (for free) a start-up app that ‘helps 16-30 year olds who really value that brand connection’ ‘connect with the brands they love’.

The second was an invitation to read a blog telling me (again) that millenials (in itself a clumsy concept, in a world where psychographics matter much more than demographics) have a ‘burning desire to spend (their money) ethically’.

The third was an invitation to get the ‘Early Bird Discount’ for a conference I attended last year where, in amongst the many, tired clichés, empty platitudes and lazy axioms, the keynote speaker’s ‘insight’ had been:

‘milennials want meaningful conversations with brands’

Really? I mean, really, really?

Think about all the 16-30 year olds, or ‘millenials’, that you know.

Think about how many of them are mainly preoccupied with brands, wishing to engage ‘meaningfully’ with them, declare, publicly, their love for them, explain how important their ethics are.

Then think about the real world, as you know it.

Think about how many ‘milennials’ are, instead, mainly preoccupied with getting a degree, or a job, or a shag, or someone to hang out with on a Sunday, or somewhere to live that isn’t a shoebox.

I’m not saying engagement with brands doesn’t matter, although I’d love the folk behind the start-up app to explain who they really think has the time or the inclination to profess their love for brands, and on a regular basis.

I’m not saying ethics don’t matter, although I’d love the author of the blog I mentioned to explain the success amongst 16-30 year olds of bargain-bucket clothes made by Bangladeshi kids in horrifying sweat shops.

And I’m not saying that it is impossible to conceive of a need, on occasion, to have a ‘conversation’ with a brand, although I’d love the chap who made this the centrepiece of his presentation to explain how a human conversation with a body corporate can ever be ‘meaningful’.

These things might matter. They might, to a very small minority of people, matter a lot.

However, to most people, they really don’t matter that much at all. Sure, you can point me to a bunch of research where people have said they care about these things.

But look at what people actually do. How they actually behave. Look at what you see, not what you are told. As an industry, we need a lot less psephology, and a lot more anthropology.

Agencies are always whining about how clients don’t take them seriously.

There are many, legitimate reasons for this.

But constantly, and proudly, spouting absolute, unjustified – and unjustifiable – bollocks is surely one of them.


– this piece first published by The Marketing Society