Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Internet Detritis

I chanced upon the long list of blogs "I follow." In reality, I haven't looked at most of them for years. And when I did, just now, most of them are sadly no more.

What happened after 2011 / 2012 when that last post appeared?

Did the owner get bored with blogging and move on to other things? One of the erstwhile bloggers abandoned his blog and started another, on a different theme, which is very successful.  Another had written the blog about her and her partner's quest for a baby to adopt. The blog was no longer needed when the baby came along. A crafting blog that I much admired now seems to have been taken over by someone selling cut price printers and ink, yet using the same crafting title.

I had another blog which has been abandoned. It was my "scrapping blog." I used to be an ardent paper crafter, making cards, constantly experimenting with different inks and paints and scrap booking. Work trips to America invariably included a detour to a shop or outlet where I could buy US supplies at half the price.

But then, one day, I suddenly asked myself what would happen to all the thick albums I had created, the chronicle of my life. I have what I refer to as "my archive" which starts from when I'm about seven years old and writing stories. I've no-one to leave it all to. When someone impatiently clears out my attic in a few years time, when I have shuffled off this mortal coil, the archive will unceremoniously end up on the tip.

And from that moment, I lost all interest in scrap booking, and with it, card making. I took up gardening instead.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Old duffers banned from Strictly Come Dancing?

The Strictly Come Dancing group on Facebook spluttered back into life this week with the news, from a couple of unreliable sources, that the BBC has apparently told agents it doesn't want any more old duffers in the line-up this year. They don't win, and it will lead to a more entertaining show, apparently.

Well it depends on who the "old duffer" is.

Niles Rodgers
I can think of quite a few people over the age of 60 who could tan the hide of the likes of Frankie from The Saturdays, the first contestant officially announced this year. They may or may not be natural dancers but they're certainly fit, in the healthy sense, cool and trendy.

I'm thinking of David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Niles Rodgers, Alan Hansen, Anna Wintour, Vivienne Westwood (in her 70s), Daphne Selfe (model, 86), Sigourney Weaver, Bill Nighy, Pierce Brosnan, Rod Stewart, Sting, Liam Neeson, Olivia Newton-John, Susan Sarandon, Joan Collins (over 80). I could go on.

Of course none of them would ever deign to appear in SCD. They're far too cool and famous.

But, dear BBC, if you insist on your token oldies being "old duffers" like John Sargent, Quentin Wilson, Jimmy Tarbuck and Paul Daniels, then yes they are never going to win. Incidentally, some of the older female contestants have been very good and entertaining: Cherie Lunghi, Pamela Stephenson, Felicity Kendall. We need inspiring older role models. I wouldn't watch SCD if it was only full of young and shallow desperados from EastEnders.

By the way, I think the whole thing is what I call a stir-up. The BBC always plays a blinder in terms of seeding daft PR stories around the likely line-up, which is always entirely different than the one people speculate about, and I think this ageism story is part of their PR build up. It's a little ill conceived if that's the case, with the Miriam O'Reilly case still leaving a nasty taste in the mouth. Not to mention the sour note struck by Arlene Philips being booted out for being too old.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Savvy marketers get nostalgic (you read it here first)

Twenty years ago today the first online shopping transaction was made. It doesn't seem a long time really, 20 years, and somehow online shopping seems to have become so mainstream I would have expected it to have been even longer ago.

But there's still a huge number of disenfranchised people who don't have access to the internet - particularly among the over 65s. My mother, 82, was one of them until a couple of weeks ago when she decided to take the bull by the horns, book computer lessons with Age UK and get the required broadband. She then bought a tablet and has been making good progress, although she's impatient with how much there is to learn. She thought it would be easier and more intuitive.

As a marketer, I'm always looking ahead to new trends and where we will be going. I predict there'll soon be a general return to nostalgia and may be even "old fashioned" ways of doing business. We're reaching saturation point with email. I've spent the last two weeks in an exercise I call "reclaiming my inbox" where I've been clicking on unsubscribe in all the emails and newsletters I receive. This could be a whole blog post in itself because most of them still email me weeks later, and a lot of them are emailing me in my former name, when I have been using my married name for four years, which begs the question how old is their database?

The Super Boomers already dominate in terms of their spending power and if most of them are anything like me, we're fed up with: a) being patronised by big brands and referred to as "silver surfers" just because we're over 50, when most of it were blogging years ago and using Facebook when it launched;  b) we yearn for simple and uncomplicated. Not in gadgets (we buy all the latest "stuff") but in life itself. There's too much choice. Booking a holiday takes hours now because you have to research every hotel on TripAdvisor. Even knowing what to eat for a healthy diet is hugely complicated. A magazine article recently pitted three experts against each other, and they all disagreed. So what hope is there for the average person? 

I was recently buying a few cards in Clinton's - in itself an outdated pastime when a lot of youngsters prefer to send e greetings - and I proffered the little card they stamp when you make a purchase. "Oh we've got something better now," said the assistant, and slapped down a flyer for me to read. Of course they want my email address and in return they will email me with offers. Apparently I will get a fourth card free when I buy three cards. I'm not sure how that will work because I didn't want to register. I quite enjoyed the harmless pursuit of having them stamp my little card and then give me a free card, no questions asked. So I'll carry on doing this, but in Marks and Spencer where they still run the same promotion with no email addresses needed.

Recently a couple of online retailers have started sending newsletters, nicely produced and luxurious, and it was a pleasure to sit and read them for a few minutes.

I seriously think there could be something in nostalgic marketing. Not only would the Supers love it, but also Gen X and Y because fashion is about nothing more than recycling the past. And the past is new to them.
I'd love to hear your views.

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