front-oct08.jpgWelcome to the October issue of The Grocery Trader. There are now just over two months left to Christmas, in case you need reminding! In this issue we’ve got features on Big Night In and Merchandising & Display. With Halloween at the end of this month, Bonfire Night in November and the party season coming up, we take a timely look at treats for sharing: food, drinks, snacks, sweets, chocolate and other goodies. In Merchandising & Display, we look at kitting your store out to sell, with the latest in shelving and racking units, static display products, retail ready packaging, video screens and more.

The consensus in the grocery industry these days seems to be, if we all keep our hopes up and our heads down, we’ll get through the current economic difficulties. But don’t stop the jokes! From soldiers at the front to stressed salespeople, the British rely on humour and vulgarity to get through crises.

This column loves a good pun, so we’d like to congratulate Dairy Crest and their ad agency for at this time – we presume inadvertently? – putting a magnificent conceptual pun on our screens, in the form of the wonderful new Country Life ad starring John Lydon, which went live on 1 October.

Better known in his Sex Pistols days as Johnny Rotten, it’s clear to see John Lydon still likes a good wind-up. The press release about his first ever TV ad (why has it taken advertisers so long to pluck up courage to use him?) quotes our hero saying, “I for one am proud to be British, and I’m proud to get behind a proper British brand. That’s why I’m supporting Country Life butter.”

As every schoolboy knows, Shakespeare made Hamlet say to Ophelia, “Do you think I meant country matters?” in a highly suggestive conversation, and thereafter the pun was enshrined in our natural literature.

The bard knew exactly what he was doing, and so does Mr Lydon, when it comes to being cheeky. Even if the pun in the new ad isn’t deliberate on the ad agency’s part, this isn’t Rotten/Lydon’s first sly play in the media on this particular rudery.

Thirty years ago the Sex Pistols hit ‘Pretty Vacant’ had adolescents everywhere shouting the second syllable of the title’s second word, and smirking with glee. Now teenagers of all ages who get the joke will have a good chuckle: everybody else will be blissfully unaware. The campaign will achieve its objective of raising Country Life’s brand profile and Dairy Crest will presumably sell lots of product, so good for them.

Have a good month, and keep smiling.

Charles Smith

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