The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Another Day, Another Holiday …
April 26, 2013, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Yes, you read that right, I’m on another holiday.

Worse, I’m on another national holiday.

Seriously, how does China actually make any money?

But just when you thought you couldn’t be more flabbergasted/angry, I should inform you that this holiday lasts until next Wednesday.

Yes, Wednesday.

The only good news is that means there’s no blog posts till Thursday, but still, even I am starting to get embarrassed with all this, but not embarrassed enough to actually turn them down, I note.

Anyway, what this means is that I’m giving distant ‘friends’ a little advanced warning to start packing their bags and selling their house because there’s more than a good chance that I’ll be turning up on one of your doorsteps in the next day or so.

Right, now that’s out the way, I want to talk about this:

That print ad – as you can see – is for Parker Pens.

Putting aside that in this day and age, it seems utterly mental that a pen manufacturer would do a big ad campaign, the fact is this ad was run in Singapore in the [I think] late 70’s/early 80’s.

But that’s not what I find interesting, it’s the fact they’re promoting their ‘pen-pal’ community.

Now given there are people on here who probably are so young, they don’t even know what a pen is – let alone a pen-pal – what you should know is that pen-pals were basically a bit like Facebook – or Twitter – except on a much, much smaller scale and with the swapping of information that was actually interesting and valuable.

The reason I am saying this is because:

1. It is a great strategy … designed to drive sales [be it pen or cartridge refill] brand differentiation and emotional value.

2. It highlights the ‘social’ approach to marketing that certain digital types like to think they invented, has been around longer than many of them have been alive.

This is not meant as a slur against digital practitioners – after all, I consider myself to be one of them – it’s simply a reminder that in many cases, technology doesn’t create cultural change, it’s simply empowers efficiency of [inter]action.


36 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I’m busy. Stay away.

PS. What’s a pen?

Comment by Billy Whizz

Don’t worry Billy, you would never know how to use it anyway.

Comment by Rob

I thought 2013 was the year of the snake not the year of the holiday. Now I know why Andy and family went on their holiday earlier this week.

The Parker pen ad is brilliant. The execution might not be up to much but the strategy and the creative idea definitely are. For that alone, it serves as a great lesson for planners and creatives. Shame many would dismiss it as old and irrelevant and basically miss the lesson and the point.

I know what you’re saying about social media guys thinking that before them, there was nothing but there are definitely some great, intelligent guys in the field as well. They might not work in media but their there. I personally work with a number of really smart and experienced guys at G and I can tell you that if I show them this ad, they’d appreciate it as a precursor to what many companies try to do today, just without the bigger, meaningful and relevant creative idea underpinning it.

It’s a great example of your beloved devious strategy Rob. No wonder you are so full of praise for it.

Comment by Pete

If they’re working with you on google+ they’re not that good.

Comment by DH

Very mean Dave and the fact I laughed out loud doesn’t deviate from that fact.

Comment by Rob

Fair point Pete. I suppose my angst is aimed mainly at the social media experts in adland who think they can solve everything and do anything.

Of course not all people are like that, we have some amazing folk at W+K for example, but many of the media agency guys are particularly guilty of mistaking buzzwords as ability.

A few weeks ago I met one who said social could solve everything. I asked him to stop all gun crime in the US in 3 weeks. It’s been 4 now and I still haven’t heard from him. Yes, I was a prick, but he started it by opening his mouth and letting his bullshit spout out.

And yes, this is definitely devious strategy.

Comment by Rob

perfect example of your “do something, then make an ad about it” motto. love it!

Comment by rafik

Is that headline trying to be a bit dirty? If it is, are the 2 guys in the ad penpals about to get a room and start spilling man ink over each other?

Comment by DH

Yes I wrote man ink. Get over it.

Comment by DH

Only for those with a disgusting mind Dave. So yes, I can see why you’d see that.

Comment by Rob

You really need a holiday if you think that ad dates from the late 70s early 80s. You know way more than I do about Singapore but I couldn’t believe they were stylistically behind the times to that extent, so I read the ad.

By appointment to New York’s World Fair gave me a clue. I squinted further and read the opening line “since last April when Parker first started….by electronic computer. … at the New York World’s Fair….”

Your colleagues at G will confirm that the last New York World’s Fair started in April 1964 and again in April 1965 so I would hazard a guess that this ad ran in the mid 60s.

But I might be wrong – after all, I cannot remember the last time I had a holiday.

Comment by John

Putting that aside, I am disturbed to note that for the second day running I agree completely with your post.

Comment by John

It can’t last. One of you will fuck up sooner or later.

Comment by Billy Whizz

It sounds like you need a holiday then John. But rest assured, I can’t possibly keep up writing posts you agree with. It’s biological or something.

Comment by Rob

I can definitely believe this was an ad from the late 70s or early 80s. Advertising in Singapore only developed in the mid 80’s, before that, only Ian Batey was making decent work and then when Neil French arrived in the late 80’s, it really developed it’s standards and style.

Comment by Pete

I found the ad on a Singaporean historical site and it stated it as 70’s/80’s. I know it might look from an earlier era, but trust me, even though the ad scene there is very vibrant, I can assure you I saw stuff similar to this as recently as early 2000’s.

I could be wrong … the Singaporean historical guys could be wrong … but the point is still relevant, which I’m sure you’d annoyingly have to agree with.

Comment by Rob

I agreed with the point already but, if the ad is from the 70s/80s, can someone explain why it’s referring to an event in the mid 60s as having happened within the past year? That just baffles me.

Comment by John

Is it possible that it was an ad conceived in the 60s and re-run in Singapore fifteen years later? Because it’s definitely referencing 1964 http://www.nywf64.com/parpen04.shtml

Comment by John

If that makes you feel better John, then that’s cool. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it ran in the 60’s … 70’s … 80’s or even 90’s … the point of the ad isn’t really the date, but the fact they used a strategy that drove social interaction with the brand. All the date highlights is that this sort of thing was in existence before social media, despite the fact many social media ‘guru’s’ believe they invented the premise, which they didn’t.

But if you want it to be in the 60’s, that’s cool – it proves my point even better plus it highlights the uber-detail orientated Singapore heritage society were wrong, which is a win:win in my book.

Comment by Rob

I agrred – sheesh. And yes it backs up the social point – that’s why I pointed this out.

Comment by John

Great post Rob but writing a blog and tweeting incessantly doesn’t make you a digital practitioner anymore than writing emails makes you an author.
This is not meant as a dig at you because I know you do understand the medium and have developed ideas that have properly harnessed its power. My issue is with the amount of “experts” who continue to confuse digital with online and have no right to claim expertise on either.
The pen strategy in this ad is great. It’s also very logical if you think about it which is possibly the thing that is missing in so much communication these days. The idea that drives meaning behind the brand and its usage rather than just aiming to amplify the brand name as far as it can go, regardless of who it passes over.

Comment by George

Great points George, especially [1] that the strategy is actually incredibly logical and [2] the difference between online and digital. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never thought about it in those terms which is both a great definer and proof I’m no digital practitioner at all. Damn.

Comment by Rob

You are better than many Robert, especially because you ask “what if” rather than “what is”.

Comment by George

I knew I’d stolen that term from someone – I literally was saying it to some of my colleagues yesterday. So basically, I’m being paid for your wisdom. Wouldn’t be the first time would it.

Comment by Rob

Or the only person.

Comment by DH

From the charming ad down, this was an excellent read with excellent points.

Comment by Lee Hill

Is that because Rob hassled you for more free tickets?

Comment by DH

I buy my tickets thank you very much Dave.

Well, I buy some of them. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

What do you mean holiday again? Tomorrow and Sunday are working days, for the Monday and Tuesday the “Gave us”, so we only have one day off. You must be a lucky boy to be able to take all those days off!!! Some others are working and trying to build some communities and content strategy and engagement with consumers. You’re the lucky one who can do such thing on holiday! Enjoy

Comment by Cyril

You’ve just given more reasons to love W+K.

Comment by Rob

Or more reasons for Dan to have a word with local management.

Comment by John

Sssssssshhhhh.

Comment by Rob

Not much to what’s been said here so I won’t bother.
Partly because I have a hangover and don’t feel able to make thoughts function in a meaningful way.
Would you believe I had a German pen pal only 14 years ago. I met her in Hamburg New Years Eve 1999. Funny, I haven’t thought about her for years.
Come to think of it, it’s best not to think about that trip, things happened.
Anyway, I’m off to drink a VAT of tea and kill our chef if he doesn’t make me bacon sandwich

Comment by northern

Things happened? Youporn things? Worse, Youporn GERMAN things???

Comment by Rob

Oh much worse than that, much, much worse.
On a par with The Hangover, except worse because I remember most of it
You’ll have to wait until Korea.

Comment by northern

Thas was meant to say “Not much to add” told you I wan’t firing on all cylinders

Comment by northern




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