Saturday, 25 April 2009

Where have all the women gone?

I have recently done some research with working class youths. One of the things that struck me is the fact that you always get big groups of guys hanging out on the street corner but no girls. I wanted to find out the answer to this so I investigated their hangouts.
Their hangouts seem to be as follows:

(1) Until the age of thirteen both boys and girls hang out on estates, where they can be closely watched by their parents.

(2) From the ages of thirteen, both boys and girls hang out in the parks, where they have their own space are rarely bothered and can do their own thing like drink and smoke spliffs.

(3) From the ages of sixteen, girls get picked up by the older boys and end up in clubs and pubs whilst the boys who can't get in the clubs hang around the streets. Which is why you get large groups of boys hanging out on street coroners.

Cocaine and the Lynx effect

Young guys love Lynx/Axe. Lynx is seen as being an enhancer to their ability to pull women. Guy's are motivated by the fact that Lynx = seduction. Seduction is good because if you can seduce then you can potentially get a shag.

Cocaine for some young guys can often fulfil a similar role. Cocaine is seen as being a tool of seduction. It is often used to pull women as the following quotes illustrate

"Some girls love Coke, you tell them you got some powder and your in"

"Coke is like a bargaining a girl a line and your sorted"

"You know at the end of the night some girls will be pissed and begging for a line up..that's when you have got them"

These guys believe that cocaine can be used as a seducer in order to pull the fit women.

Banks are all right but bankers are w***ers

Research with working class audiences suggests an interesting dichotomy in terms of the credit crunch.

These people clearly separate Banks from Bankers. In fact banks are seen as being nice, kind, helpful, they are often seen as being the victims of nasty corporate city guys as the following quotes illustrate

"I've always used my bank and they are really nice"

"My banks are great I know Silvia at the cash desk and she is great"

"It is not the banks fault..this crisis is due to them rich bastards"

However, bankers are seen to be b****s they are blamed for the credit crunch- and not many people make the connection that they work for the banks.

"Bankers are bastards...they have ripped off this country due to their greed"

"It's bankers in the city that have caused this mess"

These facts have big implications on how banks present themselves. Positioning themselves as nice, kind and helpful still seems to be the right approach.

Boys can multi task!

It is a fact that men can't multi task(well I can't). However, times are changing, young boys are starting to learn how to multi task. How come? Well it is all down to the utilisation of media, boys these days will listen to the radio, play their computer and talk on the phone all at the same time - they are multi tasking.
Yes, ladies, the glass ceiling is about to fall in.

Middle class Mums, researchers and recruiters

It sadness me but there are very few specialists in conducting research with 'hard to reach audiences' e.g. drug addicts, domestic abusers, children in homes etc. There are two main reasons for this:
(1) Most recruiters are nice 'middle class mums', they tend to recruit from their own network - e.g. people like them, this means that drug addicts, estate kids etc are not generally on their radar + they don't really want to recruit them, talk to them or have them in their own home.
(2) Most researchers are nice 'middle class mums', this means that when taking to 'hard to reach' audiences they are often outside of their comfort zone and therfore find it hard to really connect, probe or understand them. My favourite example is a research director who tried to convince a national bookmakers that they should not speak to DEs despite the fact that this constituted half the clients target audience!?

Monday, 6 April 2009

Happy Hooker

Qualitative research with working class guys indicates that there is a sea-change of attitudes towards prostitution. Visting a prostitute is no longer seen as the domain of old men in macks.

There are several reasons for this:

(1) Cocaine and drink: These guys report that when they mix drink and cocaine it makes them much more horny: However, because their wives don't like the fact that they do cocaine, they often stay out with their mates and when they get the horn they either book an escort, to come round, or they go to a local hooker.

As the following verbatims illustrate:

"I always feel horny when I have had a line up, so rather than disturb my misses I look for a good time girl"

"I have been in situations where I have been with my mates and we have been watching a bit of porn and doing a bit of coke. Then someone will say to us...let's get a girl round for a shag. Sometimes we will get a girl each but often we will just get one girl for all of us"

(2) Lad's holidays: The tradition of lad's holidays abroad e.g. stag parties: Often introduces these guys to prostitution:

"When you are with the lads in Tallinn or Prague you always have a few beers then go for a shag"

"When we went to Prague, there were loads of tarts offering sex, after a few beers you don't say no"

"We always have a boy's holiday to Thailand: When you are in Thailand you have got to have a shag"

(3) Cleaner prostitutes: There is a perception that the sex workers who are in flats are often much cleaner than girls who are working on the streets

"I would never shag a street girl..they should pay me"
"There is something nice about going to a flat. The places are clean and you get a nice cup of tea"
"The girl's that I use are clean there is no needle marks in their arms"

(4) Easy availability of prostitutes. These guys claim that getting a prostitute is very easy all you have to do is look in the local paper.

(5) Question of race: These guys claim that the girls they use are not English. The girls are mainly from Thailand or Eastern Europe. There is a perception often fuelled by the media that being a prostitute is part of these girls culture.

"In Thailand there are prostitutes but they like doing that job...they always smile."

"Russian girls come over here to make money. They can't do much so they lie on their backs..that is why they don't mind shagging anyone"

"Lip stick and short skirts that's the Eastern European girls for you..they are brought up to be slappers"

"They are not I don't care about shagging them"

"Eastern European girls learn to do blow jobs from an early age"

Because the girls are foreign, not English, they do not think that they are someone's daughter.
For them issues of sex trafficking are not on the radar, they don't believe it or if it if they do they just dismiss it with comments like: "I'm always nice to the girls"

(6) Availability of porn. The wide spread availability of porn makes these guys think that some women are slags.

"You want to be a porn star"
"You want to do the things in porn films to someone..who is not your wife."
"There are always girls that will do things that your wife won't do"

However, the worrying trend is that these guys will often not use protection when they visit prostitutes and after the visit to the sex worker they will go back home to their wife.

Mid thirties crises: Cocaine, shag and a flutter

Last year I did some research with working class guys aged between thirty and forty.
These guys were 'tradesmen' e.g. builders and plumbers.
What was interesting is that they are a 'health time bomb"
They were smoking and drinking heavily, would indulge in a bit of cocaine at the weekend and some would visit prostitutes.

Here is some of what they said:

"They call me 2 Pac cause I always have two grams of coke with me, one for myself and one to share with the lads"

"I always have a couple of lines of coke on Friday's before I go home to see the kid's"

"My weekend is all about gambling, football, beer and a few lines...and if I can get it a shag"

"If I win on the horses, I will visit a prostitute for a blow job"

These people are the 'Loaded' generation: they were brought up reading lads mags and their attitudes are defined by believing that excess in 'vice is good and gives them kudos of being a geezer.

However, the worrying thing is that these people are often Fathers - so one must question what will be the impact on the next generation?

Heroin not chic

I recently had an interesting debate with another planner. They were trying to convince me that heroin is chic. To a point they are right - certain musicians/bands and models have raised the profile of heroin and made it appear more glamorous. However, to kids on estates heroin is not seen as cool - and the main reason for this is that they are observe on a daily basis the damage that heroin does to others.

My point is illustrated by some research conducted by Leithal Thinking with kid's on estates.

"Every day I see smack heads outside my window they are dirty and scummy"

"I'm thirteen and I was offered sex by a hoe who is on the brown. I could have had a shag, but I was worried about disease."

"You always get kid's on the brown begging to lend me a pound"

"They always try and sell me a DVD or something they have just nicked"

"Smack heads they really are the lowest of the low"

As you can see, for these guys and girls heroin is really not on their radar. Why? Because they see the destruction that this drug causes to people on their estates on a daily basis.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Manufactured boy band brands

I hate boy bands. I think they are manufactured rubbish with no soul, no clear proposition and they all sound and look the same.

However, in the short term they sell records but do they have a long term future? Generally no. Why? Because they are so formulaic, they follow a set pattern - this is why they are so alike. Replace one boy band and you have another boy band in its place. So why are they created? They are created because the record industry does not like to take risks, instead they have a near scientific process in order to ensure that they produce the perfect boy band. The bands are researched and created by consumer opinion e.g. girls like a dark haired boy, a rude boy etc. The problem is there is no differentiation.

The sad thing is that our advertising industry is following a very similar path. Brands are created by a near scientific process, ads are pre and post tested - then no client wants to take any risks, so the creative idea is further watered down. The result is we have 'boy band brands' - brands that do not have a distinctive voice, brands that are just relying on short term sales, brands that are chameleons of each other.

A lot of us are doing the same thing, we are all in the same space.

It is time to break out and start to think differently because we have gone back to the days of manufacturing, where there were no differences between brands: the early days of Ford when 'you can have any car as long as it is in black'. This is what we have now done with our brands, they are all the same.

It is time brands got their voices back.
Be brave
Stand out

Lip stick and depression

Whenever there is a recession lip stick sales go through the roof. In fact Revlon was founded in the Great Depression of the 1930's, it's aim was to make working class people happy.

The reason for this is that when times are hard people want small treats to brighten up their lives.

So in the current credit crunch expect sales of small pleasurable indulgence items such as chocolate, Champagne and lip stick to increase sales, while people look for a bit of sunshine in their lives during these dark and gloomy times.

The return of decandence

We are in a credit crunch, times are looking tough. However, whenever we are in tough times our natural instinct is to live life to the full. It is human nature that in times of trouble we do not to think about the long term but just concentrate on the short time. We all want to pick ourselves up - we want to feel like we are having a more joyous time than we are.

This often means that we are more likely to party. Think of the parties that were performed during the blitz, the parties in the Weimer Republic, the parties that happened when Berlin fell.
Also hardship leads to creativity - the most amazing art often comes in times of trouble as artists start to express the times or paint a more Utopian picture of the world.

So what does this mean for advertising? Well I predict a whole rafter of joyful ads and ads with humour as their basis. The current Barclycard ad is a good example of a more joyous ad, one that goes against the grain of the times. However let's all hope and pray that Howard does not make a come back.

Small Island mentality

When times are hard we shut our doors to the world and move towards an Island mentality. This is happening now. I have just done some research with working class people and the "Island mentality is definitley back."

The respondents believed the following:

(1) Britain is becoming over-crowded
(2) Overcrowding is associated with economic problems
(3) Belief that immigrants are being given priority
(4) Often there is a belief that immigrants are responsible for crime The Island mentality is not only frightening but has massive implications for marketing
(5) There is a move away from foreign cultures
(6) There is a move away from being open minded
(7) There is a move back to buying British

So in the next few years expect the following:

(1) Much more nationalistic chest beating ads
(2) More companies connecting their the British flag
(3) Immigration becoming a higher priority within the political arena

Working class becoming more conservative

Labour and the working class go together like two peas in a pod. However, times are changing. amongst the working class conservative(with small c) values are back in fashion. But there are different by takes on this by different age groups.

The older generation (40+) have very traditional Protestant working class values of working hard. They have traditional views on the role of the sexes with mum often not working but instead looking after the home.

The 20 - 40 year olds are the Sun generation: they believe in being tough on crime, buying British and have a little Britain mentality

The younger children are 'Thatchers children reborn': They are a consequence of Laissez Faire: for them it is all about being entrepreneurial, they want to make as much money as possible and as easily as possible. "Why work in Mcdonalds when you can sell drugs".

Cocaine, Levis and Glamour

In the last five years Cocaine has gone mainstream. Go in any bar or club and you will see a whole raft of different types of people sniffing white powder up their hooters. However, by becoming so mainstream Cocaine has lost it's glamour.

Recent research by Leithal thinking has shown that young kids on estates are turning away from coke. Why? The reason is quite simple coke is suffering from the Levis effect. In 1990's young kid's turned away from Levis because their dad started wearing them. The same is now true with coke - when your dad is doing a few lines in a working men's club - there is something not quite cool in doing the same thing.