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  • The John Lewis Christmas ad gets cute with a loved-up snowman. There’s just one small problem…

    November 12, 2012 @ 8:30 am | by Laura Slattery

    This is the new Christmas ad for John Lewis. It’s called The Journey and the 90 seconds of snowy seasonal selflessness that lie within were created for the department store by the agency Adam&Eve DDB. According to the retail group, the ad “celebrates the extra mile we all go to at Christmas to find the perfect gift”. Well, that’s the power of love. Not that power of love. The other Power of Love.

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    Awwwww… right? It’s a snowman with a crush. Our hero got up early one morning and went all the way to the city, negotiating dual carriageways and dodging snowball fights, to buy his snowlady a rather flattering scarf-hat-and-glove set. Of course, a freezer would have better facilitated any ambitions for a long-term relationship, but still – so sweet.

    Except, if you’re in the habit of watching one of the most popular shows on British television, you might have another, rather less gooey take on this powdery pair:

    Don't blink! John Lewis goes all Weeping Angels

    And that’s just a small sample of the Twitter-people who have been uncannily reminded of the terrifying, heartless Weeping Angels. Originally created by writer Steven Moffat for the Doctor Who episode Blink and now a recurring villain, Weeping Angels seem like demure statues but have a habit of moving jumpily closer whenever you take your eyes off them, eventually getting near enough to zap you out of the present day with their raised fists and enraged stone faces. All very Christmassy, in other words, though after last year’s ad, which inspired this creepy spoof version, it’s almost as if John Lewis are doing it on purpose.

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    Naturally, you can buy a toy set of angels at John Lewis.

  • Sci-fi loving Samsung wins easy cool points from high court judge

    July 9, 2012 @ 4:20 pm | by Laura Slattery

    Spot the difference: a Samsung Galaxy tablet 10.1 and Apple's iPad. Clue: the one on the right is apparently not as cool. Photograph: REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak/Files

    Yes, yes. A judge has declared that Samsung’s Galaxy tablets don’t infringe Apple’s registered design because they aren’t “as cool”.

    In the seemingly damning point 190 of a 191-point ruling, the judge notes: “From the front they belong to the family which includes the Apple design; but the Samsung products are very thin, almost insubstantial members of that family with unusual details on the back. They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool.”

    But is this really the Pyrrhic victory it first seems? Can Samsung survive such a slapdown? Of course it can. Since when has a high court judge ever been regarded as the arbiter of cool? Since never. As a group, they are notorious for their tenuous grasp of popular culture, and as for their fashion sense, well, who really knows what’s going on underneath those gowns? (Other than a sneaky game of Words With Friends during the more boring witness testimonies, of course.) Consumer psychology suggests Samsung will now see its appeal in certain trend-conscious circles rocket in comparison to the court-approved iPad – an added bonus to the fact that it has actually won its case.

    In any event, Samsung’s relative uncool in the eyes of Judge Colin Birss wasn’t the only thing that helped the South Korean company emerge victorious from court. Its expert technical witness, Itay Sherman, also called on the science fiction canon to argue that Apple didn’t invent the tablet computer, and therefore all hands are legally on deck.

    Point 70 of the ruling reads: “Considering the design corpus generally, Mr Sherman explained that the idea of tablet computers has existed for a long time, and pointed out they had been imagined in science fiction, referring to Star Trek (from 1966 onwards) to 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968).”

    Sherman, on behalf of Samsung, asserted that the “optimal design principles for tablet computers had been commonly understood for a long time and by 2004 it was understood that any tablet computer should offer unfettered views of electronic media by means of a large display screen and that the screen would be the main element in the design of any tablet”.

    The judge accepted this evidence, though which episodes of Star Trek he watched in order to confirm Samsung’s argument is not recorded. Neither, sadly, is his verdict on whether Starfleet’s Personal Access Display Device is as cool, cooler or not as cool as the iPad’s model of “extreme simplicity”.

  • Essential oils may not always be so essential, say fragrant Davy philosophers

    June 22, 2012 @ 10:55 am | by Laura Slattery

    “Welcome to the world of flavour and fragrance,” a new Davy Research report on the flavour and fragrance (F&F) industry boldly opens. Written by John O’Reilly, Jack Gorman and Aiden O’Donnell, it’s easily my new favourite stockbroker research report – a heady mix of financial metrics and the philosophy of sensory pleasure.

    First, the history bit. Over the last 20 years, the F&F sector has thrived as consumers smelled the bath salts, wrapped their tongues around flavour extracts and sought out those top notes with an enthusiasm that, while not unique in history, “has never before been so dominant, at least as far as so many people are concerned”, Davy argues.

    “Nothing exemplifies this more than how the human body, as regards every sensory experience, has commanded centre stage as the means to self-awareness, gratification, emotional and psychological well-being, self-expression, self-creation, identity and personal happiness.

    “It has been narcissism writ large.”

    (I’m a Clinique Happy Heart woman myself.)

    “In the long historical contest… between stoicism (indifference to pleasure) and hedonism (that satisfying wants and the pleasure attainable is the only good), hedonism has been the recent winner,” says Davy. Its report goes on to discuss the ideal conditions for fragrantly rampant consumerism, and how these may variously relate to Romanticism, the Industrial Revolution and a scene from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, before reaching the more grimly prosaic austerity versus stimulus economic debate of our times.

    “A regime of austerity will only endure if the belief system around it changes,” Davy observes. In other words, make-do-and-mend resignation won’t last unless we really, really believe in it. But if we do believe in it… then that has consequences for flavour and fragrance manufacturers like Givaudan (top shareholder: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Naturex, Robertet, Frutarom and Symrise.

    These F&F houses fulfil the “here comes the science” role that L’Oréal used to talk about, buying raw materials like vanilla, menthol, sandalwood and citrus and transforming them into the chemical cocktails that make up shampoos, balms, perfumes, gels and detergents for consumer product companies – which then do the easy part and sell the stuff to us weak hedonists.

    Bicarbonate of soda is an effective cleaning agent, the report notes, but it lacks the sensory attraction of a fragranced alternative. This is why it is so hard to purchase a clothes detergent that has not been jazzed up with the smell of fresh mountain air or sea shore driftwood – “as if these could ever really be put in a package”. The irony is that with so much olfactory bombardment, our sensory neurons get a bit tired. Because everything smells, nothing much smells – or at least not in a way that stimulates us.

    This might not be a problem for much longer. If austerity overturns the existing order, then it’s curtains – in the West, at least – for what Davy calls “the excesses of a buy/discard/buy culture”. The “marketing bias towards engendering personal dissatisfaction” may have to be re-pitched; the “demand for novelty in sensory experience” will falter. The stockbroking house forecasts that industrial sensory experiences may well “be of lesser significance” in future, at least in the developed world.

    Or as it puts it: “The long-run contest between the stoics and the hedonists may enter a new phase.”

    So those essential oils might not be so essential any more. And that’s not great in an industry where new products can account for around 20 per cent of sales. Happily, Davy remains positive about the fundamentals of the sector – praise the lord of ylang-ylang for those developing markets.

  • New Valentine’s Day rule: only single people get to use the phrase “Hallmark holiday”

    February 14, 2012 @ 8:00 am | by Laura Slattery

    Everyone knows e-cards aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on, but it’s the printed greeting cards industry that gets a proper hard time from people who think mass-produced sincerity is incompatible with how they truly feel. A “Hallmark holiday” is shorthand for dates in the year when naysayers feel guilt-tripped into buying anodyne stuff for the long-term parkers in their lives, and, let’s face it, sometimes it’s just easier to profess repulsion than it is to come up with consumption-free alternatives to mark the occasion.

    Statistically, you are 2,874 times more likely to hear the sneer “Hallmark holiday” applied to Valentine’s Day than to Mother’s Day. Happily, today is Valentine’s Day, so people who consider themselves blissfully paired off but can’t be bothered to go to the shops can simply blurt “Hallmark holiday” in the hope that it all goes away. It probably won’t though. Hallmark is a $4 billion company – a privately owned, Kansas-based king of sales, manufacturing and intellectual property licensing – and it will take more than a recession, a few thousand personalisation apps and a dollop of ennui to unravel it all.

    The “Hallmark holiday” declarers can come across like they believe they’re pointing to some covert retail conspiracy, as if the people who brought us Purple Ronnie and the Cessna-themed “brother” birthday card are engaged in a devious scheme to manipulate our innermost emotions and only they are resolute enough to stand alone from its saccharine tendrils.

    Perhaps that is a more accurate reflection of what’s going on than American Greetings’ description of itself as “a creator and manufacturer of innovative social expression products that assist consumers in enhancing their relationships”. So far, so Facebook. American Greetings, by the way, is the second largest publisher of greeting cards in the world and parent company of such brands as Carlton Cards, Gibson Greetings and Camden Graphics. But “American Greetings holiday” just doesn’t trip off the tongue quite so fast.

    The point is, you only have to have endured one solo February 14th deep in a post-break-up mire to know this: While the sight of slow-walking couples holding hands, heart-shaped helium balloons, ribbon-collared teddy bears and/or cupid’s milk chocolate arrow as they hold up pathway traffic may indeed be gut-wrenching for several reasons, there’s nothing more irksome to a single person than the trill of a coupled-up person who casually asserts the meaningless of the day even as they’re promising their mobiles that yes, they can vacate the table by nine.

    In any case, the Hallmark sentiment-behemoth might have helped popularise Valentine’s Day cards, but it didn’t invent them. The practice of sending cards predates the founding of the company by at least 60 years – a factoid worth keeping in your back pocket if your partner turns out to be a tedious Valentine’s curmudgeon but you haven’t reached that level of jadedness yet. The Hall brothers did lay claim to having invented modern gift wrapping paper, though, so they’re not entirely innocent. And if your partner is allergic to red envelopes, remember to keep some sense of perspective.  It could be worse. They could be “more of a savoury person”.

  • You don’t really know me at all, do you?

    December 14, 2011 @ 9:00 am | by Laura Slattery

    All I want for Christmas is a Christmas gift guide that acknowledges the tat as well as the treasure. Instead I’m forced to shun their glossy pages for fear I might absorb their array of snowflake-pattern hot-water bottle covers, retro cake-stands and pen holders in the shape of giant pencil sharpeners and fall in consumer lust… It’s likely to happen, even though I don’t use hot-water bottles, already possess a retro cake-stand and am capable of rationalising the pen holder in the shape of a giant pencil sharpener as an office stationery joke of limited lifespan.

    It’s a tricky business, gift-giving subjectivity. For example, 66 per cent of people think the “keep calm and carry on” meme, and all products emblazoned with versions thereof, is a sloganeering ship that’s sailed, but 85 per cent of people think that’s just a #madeupstat. All of which makes it important to highlight the dark side of gift exchange; the faux pas presents; the “you don’t really know me at all” moments. It’s crazy what you could have had, as REM used to sing before they broke up and released a greatest hits collection just in time for the Christmas market. With that cheery thought of seasonal dissatisfaction in mind, here are my top three “must not buys” for 2011.

    Tulisa’s TFB The Female Boss Eau de Parfum – Celebrities have never been known for lending their names to the world’s finest colognes, but this fragrance could waft like a bed of delicate lavender infused with only the finest top notes from the meadows of heaven and I still wouldn’t want its scent anywhere near my wrists. It’s the title that grates – the “female boss”, so exotic a creature she merits her own olfactory trademark. Tulisa Contostavlos’s controversial arm gesture at the start of the X Factor, showing off a tattoo of those three words, not only attracted the ire of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, but also had the effect of making Cheryl Cole’s walking hair advertisement for L’Oréal seem subtle. So it’s a no from me, but with the obvious deep regret that Tulisa’s sometime band colleague Dappy has not yet brought out an aftershave called The Male Boss. And as X Factor viewers will know, Tulisa’s Little Muffins are not, sadly, edible.

    Top Gear: The Stig Soap on a Rope – The Stig is that enigmatic bloke who poses on Top Gear in a dark-visored helmet and all-white motor racing suit, like a Michelin man after a life-changing diet, only not as cool. The story of the Stig is in fact a sorry legal tale that came to a head last year when Formula Three driver Ben Collins won a court case against the BBC after the broadcaster tried to prevent him publishing a book that identified him as the anonymous Stig. So it would be fun if as the layers of soap peeled away, the helmet revealed a miniature human head, rather than reaching its presumable destiny as a greying alkaline clump of indeterminate profession, dangling from the temperature dial. The Stig’s shower gel recently stood defiantly on the bargain shelves of my local Tesco for weeks, proving that not even puberty is a compelling excuse for a personal hygiene range trading off the snarls of Jeremy Clarkson.

    BBC DVD of The Royal Wedding: William and Catherine – Ah, Kate and Wills, bless. The dress! The abbey! The bridesmaid’s backside! Relive all those romantic moments from last April on this special DVD from the BBC. Pause and rewind to see if Amy Huberman was actually there. Marvel over the construction of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s new nose. Did Samantha Cameron really not wear a hat? These were good times… or at least they were over on ITV, where reliable old Philip Schofield and company proved more willing and able to first identify and then gossip about the celebrity guests en route to their pews than the stiff-upper-lip BBC with its stream of constitutional experts, royal historians and awkward silences. So if royal wedding memorabilia is your thing, make sure to request the ITV highlights – or better still, drop hints about the charms of the made-for-TV movie version. It’s a bit like Made in Chelsea, only based on a true story.

  • What does the future hold for Superquinn?

    July 19, 2011 @ 11:39 am | by Laura Slattery

    The tills have rung for Superquinn, sold to one of its main rivals, Musgrave Group, after the chain was placed in receivership last night. That the company, founded in Dundalk by Feargal Quinn in 1960, has secured a buyer is undeniably positive for both its 2,800 employees and the Irish grocery market alike, especially as Musgrave chief executive Chris Martin cited comforting phrases like “excited by this opportunity” and “supports our growth agenda”.

    The Superquinn bakery (still glazes ahead of its competitors) and Superquinn sausages (coveted by generations of emigrants) will remain on sale for now.

    But many questions remain. How will the Competition Authority assess the transaction? If the deal goes ahead, Musgrave, which owns Centra and Supervalu, will become the biggest retail group in the country, overtaking Tesco. Musgrave has its strongest presence in Munster, while 16 of Superquinn’s 24 stores are in Dublin. This geographical spread may be enough to assure the authority, and in any case, it will be under severe pressure to prevent retail jobs falling by the wayside.

    An outside entrant may have brought more price competition to the market as a whole, but then Superquinn is not Dunnes Stores – it has traditionally branded itself as upmarket, with the prices to match. Competing on price rather than product would change the essence of the brand. Indeed, recent economic times have seen it attempt to chase value-conscious customers in a manner that has perhaps muddied perceptions of its core offering. With its market share slipping to just 6 per cent, it probably felt it didn’t have much choice.

    Which way will Musgrave push the company? Can Ireland afford an indigenous Waitrose-type chain, especially with Dublin already well-served by Marks & Spencer and a smattering of quality standalones? The Superquinn name will be retained, but will the stores be developed by Musgraves into quasi-SuperCentras? What does Musgrave mean exactly when it says it will use “its significant brand expertise to develop the Superquinn business by investing in the stores and bringing value to the Superquinn shopper”?

    One possible solution to the gap between Superquinn’s old brand identity and the state of the economy would be to rebrand those stores that are located in struggling areas as Supervalus, but keep the Superquinn name above stores located in areas where disposable incomes have held up.

    For Irish grocery suppliers, the deal means a further concentration of retailer power and the risk of missed payments for goods already supplied. But it could be worse. Musgraves has committed in its statement this morning “to providing existing Superquinn suppliers with the opportunity to continue to supply Superquinn stores”. Contracts may be renegotiated. But an overseas buyer looking to scale up by expanding in Ireland could have decimated the supplier base altogether.

    How much has Musgrave paid the receivers? The only thing we know for sure is that it will be significantly less than the €450 million that Select Retail Holdings, a group backed by property developers, reportedly paid Senator Quinn and his family for the chain in 2005. It is this debt that prompted the receivership, rather than trading difficulties, though trade has been going in reverse of late. As a private company, Superquinn did not disclose its sales or profit figures – the group that it is set to become a part of does, however, and made a pretax profit of €72 million on sales of €4.4 billion last year.

    Musgrave, which managed to increase its profits by 3 per cent in 2010 despite a 3 per cent drop in sales, includes “not being greedy” in its list of corporate values. Customers, suppliers and staff of Superquinn will soon find out if this statement holds true.

  • Feminine, sexy, fun-loving Jane Norman has gone into administration

    June 27, 2011 @ 4:25 pm | by Laura Slattery

    Jane Norman has gone into administration, the latest casualty of recession-related fashion fatigue, the result of which 1,600 jobs in the UK and Ireland are at risk. The British women’s clothing chain has been struggling with debts of £140 million and a depressed retail sector at a time when input costs are rising. However, it’s not too much of a stretch to also blame its woes on the twin spectres of Primark and the obesity epidemic.

    Jane Norman specialises in the 16-25 age group – with the emphasis on the sweet sixteen end of the scale – which means its dresses tend to be doll-like confections of viscose and elastane, with a fondness for jewel embellishments, netted underskirts and an abnormally high frequency of halternecks. Where a mother-daughter shopping phenomenon was embraced by the likes of Topshop and its profitable ilk, body-conscious styling more or less ruled that out at Jane Norman.

    “While our core market falls into the 16-25 age bracket, our style is more about a state of mind than a specific demographic,” the 59-year-old company claims on its website, to which the obvious reply is “your demographic is all too specific”. Today, Twitter is awash with tweets lamenting that Jane Norman’s stock didn’t fit a) anyone over the age of 21 b) black women and c) anyone of any race who isn’t anorexic. Only its employees will miss it is the tenor of an unhealthy chunk of the online reaction.

    “The Jane Norman girl is feminine, sexy, fun-loving and confident,” declares the company website, to which you can add “broke”. Though its stock has improved of late, traditionally its dresses looked and felt unnecessarily cheap – as if life was a permanent hen night for petites – which would be fine, except it wasn’t cheap, it was significantly pricier than the Primark / Penneys trading round the corner, to where its customers have presumably long since departed.

    The fate of its 90 UK stores and a similar number of Debenhams concessions – plus seven standalone stores and six Debenhams concessions in Ireland – now hangs in the balance. It’s been suggested that the administrators, the accountancy group Zolfo Cooper, will be able to swiftly sell it on in what’s known as a “pre-pack administration” to either Debenhams or Edinburgh Woollen Mill, saving its workforce, or most of it.

    UPDATE 28/06/2011: Edinburgh Woollen Mill has purchased 33 of the 94 Jane Norman stores, saving 396 of the jobs. A further 740 jobs related to Jane Norman concessions are still at risk, but 390 jobs have unfortunately been lost across the UK and Ireland. Five of the Irish stores are to close, though the Sligo store is to remain open. Apologies to any employee offended by my comments about Jane Norman clothes in this blog, which is meant as an analysis of just some of the business/market factors behind the company’s difficulties.

  • The Kahlúa question

    May 6, 2011 @ 11:40 am | by Laura Slattery

    Coffee-flavoured liqueur in a lonely bar. Photo: Pernod Ricard.

    It’s a blend of sugar cane spirit, 100 per cent Arabica coffee and vanilla bean that’s been hand-crafted in Mexico since 1936 – though it may be better known to Irish drinkers as the non-Baileys part of a Baby Guinness. But the decade has not been kind to cocktail-friendly Kahlúa, the coffee-flavoured liqueur brand owned by Pernod Ricard, the largest distributor of spirits in the world.

    A trading update from Pernod has shown that it was the only one of its 14 “strategic” brands to show a reversal in sales in the nine month period to the end of March – while Pernod’s whiskey, whisky and cognac volumes powered ahead with double-digit growth thanks to swelling sales in emerging markets, the value and volume of the Kahlúa shifted sank back 3 per cent. Pernod’s last annual report shows that the company wrote down the value of the Kahlúa brand by some €100 million. That’s a lot of bottles of seasonal Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha left languishing at the back of the storeroom.

    In an industry that depends so much on marketing, is Pernod weaning itself off Kahlúa? It has only owned the drink since 2005, when it was one of a batch of brands it acquired in its takeover of Allied Domecq. That deal also saw Pernod inherit Tia Maria, another coffee-flavoured liqueur (and Baby Guinness ingredient substitute), but this was later sold to Illva Saronno, maker of Disaronno (amaretto), in 2009.

    Since then, drinks sales in the US and Canada (the biggest markets for Kahlúa) wilted in the recession as new orders gave way to wholesaler destocking. Pernod, reporting year-on-year growth of 5 per cent in its total underlying sales in the first quarter, indicated yesterday that the US was “gradually recovering”. Fans of Black Russians are yet to join in the party.

  • The Flip has flipped. Shame I just bought one

    April 15, 2011 @ 12:25 pm | by Laura Slattery

    It only seems like yesterday that an infinitely more tech-savvy colleague showed me the sleekly designed delight and built-in USB-port convenience of the Flip video camera. It was actually about two-and-a-half years ago, but sadly it was only a couple of months ago that I purchased one. This week, Flip’s owner Cisco Systems announced it was shutting down Flip.

    Boo. It used to seem like being an early adopter was the risky strategy – you shelled out a high price for a glitch-laden technology that was far from certain from becoming the standard platform. Now the tech world’s metabolism is so fast, the risks of not being an early adopter seem almost as great.

    Flip has gone from being glowing new kid to extremely popular camcorder vendor – in the US, more than here – to old-school irrelevance in just four years. But while tech analysts did largely blame high-speed innovation for Flip’s demise, it wasn’t just the cannibalistic powers of the smartphone that killed it. Its shutdown was also the result of a poor commercial decision by Cisco to acquire Flip’s maker, Pure Digital Technologies, in 2009. Cisco specialises in business networks rather than consumer technologies and couldn’t make Flip fit.

    So Flip’s fate is not exactly that of the Sony Minidisc (another gadget loved and lost) all over again. For those who own the cameras, they still have the advantage of great battery life. No one’s going to convince me that the great age of technological convergence has arrived until smartphones boast something as basic as a battery that lasts longer than the parental supply of alcohol at a kids’ birthday party.

    Still, whatever advantages it retains over its apparently more evolved replacements, few people like committing to a technology just when it’s about to become a collector’s item – something consumers might like to keep in mind next time they’re considering buying a PC. According to research firm Gartner, PC sales in the first quarter of 2011 fell 1.1 per cent worldwide and 6.1 per cent in the US.

    (I also bought a cute little mini tripod for my Flip, although so far I’ve only used this as an office desk toy, splaying the cables of its three legs and twisting them into a spiral as the fancy takes me. Procrastination is never going to be an Apple/Google duopoly.)

    The Flip RIP (with a USB port that pops in and out)

     P.S. My television set is 11 years old. It’s older than most of my friendships. I’m not replacing it until it explodes.

  • That calls for a new advertising slogan…probably

    April 6, 2011 @ 7:30 am | by Laura Slattery

    Carlsberg has ditched its “probably the best lager in the world” slogan after it proved insufficiently definitive to pull in brand-wandering drinkers. It was probably time. The line was originally voiced in 1975 by the actor and alcoholic Orson Welles, whose subsequent death makes it hard to assess his views on this blow to his legacy. In any case, the new slogan – “that calls for a Carlsberg” – sounds to me like tacit acknowledgement of alcohol’s potential misuse as an emotional crutch. Funnily enough, Carlsberg has aimed instead for the subtly different “reward after a hard day’s work” vibe.

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    The purveyors of beer boldly predicted yesterday that as a result of the new branding, the company will double its profits by 2015. If it achieves that, it will call for champagne. Meanwhile, in the interest of commercial nostalgia, here are five more advertising slogans that are no longer with us, but continue to scar our memories like cultural chicken pox:

    1. Someone you love would love some, Mum: Jacob’s “Kimberley, Mikado and Coconut Cream” slogan has not entirely gone away, but it has mutated into “someone you love would love some fun”. The “fun” in question is on display in Jacob’s loathsome new television ad, which dedicates itself to finding the hitherto undiscovered links between biscuits and corsetry. It’s a feast of audiovisual grimness made in the style of a Gwen Stefani music video from hell. Maybe that’s the point.

    2. A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play: This jingle, used between 1959 and 1995, fails the pesky “nutritional claims” section of modern advertising rules on the basis that a Mars a day doesn’t literally help you work, rest and play. Mars did revive it a few years ago, but omitted the awkwardly untrue “a Mars a day helps you” bit. Its more recent slogans include the 2002 effort “pleasure you can’t measure” – which acts as a kind of corporate riposte to those confectionery customers who get upset about the bars’ shrinking size.

    3. The future’s bright, the future’s Orange: UK telecoms company Orange “retired” this irksome (in other words, massively successful) slogan four years ago, presumably on the basis that the future is now. Lately, Orange’s sponsorship of the Baftas has been accompanied by numerous expensive cinema ads featuring all manner of Hollywood talent, plus Jack Black. Its television spots have also curiously tapped into smartphone trends while simultaneously feeding paranoia that people who use social media are socially inept.

    4. Campaign for Real Beauty: Dove is shimmying away from its “Real Beauty” line, according to Marketing Week, which makes me feel warm inside, as I always found its soap-sponsored image politics to be ever so slightly patronising. It was okay to have hips or freckles, Dove informed us - as long as you just so happened to be amazingly photogenic. Anyhow, the “real” women have reportedly been abandoned in favour of a campaign dubbed “Body Language”, which I fear has probably nothing to do with the Kylie Minogue album of the same name.

    5. Only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate / Tastes like chocolate never tasted before: And indeed never would be tasted, should your Flake live up to this slogan and disintegrate into the bubble bath before it could actually reach your mouth. Cadbury periodically kills off the suggestive “Flake girl” and tries something more pretentioussophisticated, but this is one of those lines that’s liable to come and go for the sake of the easy publicity. This time, they’ll probably just wait until everyone has forgotten about the whole Joss Stone thing.

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