James Hammond, The Brand Doctor says:
I was about to write a blog on the appalling state of creativity when this came through the door.

Front cover of the Lib Dem flyer.

Creativity, especially when it comes to advertising and design, is perhaps at its lowest ebb for decades. I loathe pretty much everything I see.

Every tv or magazine ad is so instantly forgettable either because of its dull content, witless concept or most often a combination of both.

As I was pondering about how to address this sad state of affairs in a brand blog, the following unbelievable piece of crap fell onto my doormat.

In all my something-like-40-years in advertising, sales and marketing, I’ve come across some pretty atrocious marketing communications material, but this one has to rank in the top three.

And would you believe it’s the campaign leaflet for the Liberal Democrats?

Let’s just consider what’s wrong with this eyesore (like…everything).

First, the headline, complete with questionable typography. Now, any good copywriter will tell you that the headline is the most important thing in any piece of communication. So what does this headline tell you? Is it compelling? Does it ask you a deep question? Does it answer a major issue? What does it actually do?

The answer is nothing. It says that ‘It’s in YOUR hands.’ Erm…what is in my hands? Veins? Arteries? Nothing? Air? What is it trying to say to me?

Then underneath, I get the answer. Here, in all their glory, is a pair of hands. Thankfully, they are not MY hands.

(Actually, it’s one hand that’s been copied and flipped, as both hands are identical.)

The way the hands have been cut out of a photograph shows all the skill and expertise of a monkey with a pair of scissors.

But at least it tells me what’s in those hands. Probably a rare form of blood disease, judging by the colour of the skin. I’d seriously advise whoever’s original hand it was to seek urgent medical attention. Alternatively, if your hands are actually soft and beautiful, sue the printer for clearly having no clue about how to reproduce a picture of hands on a four-colour leaflet.

Inside, this circular tells me in no uncertain terms that I can change the country.

What the hell is this?

I think what the Lib Dems mean is that they can change the country, because I have about as much chance of doing it myself as pushing a wet mattress up a spiral staircase.

The usual political campaign poppycock follows, mostly telling us how the Conservatives are evil and how much of a waste of time Jeremy Corbyn and his band of weaklings are.

But let’s be fair. Two of the comments they use to back up their argument comes from an internationally renowned source of first-classdata and accurate journalism: The Mirror. (You know, the paper that fired Piers Morgan after publishing a hoax set of photographs).

Reliable comments? I don’t think so.

There is not a single shred of content in this spread that tells me why I should vote for the Liberal Democrat party. Banal finger-pointing and heard-it-all-before sound bites remind me of those pathetic tv and magazine ads I was mentioning earlier.

But the pièce de résistance has to be the back cover. Even at this late stage of reading, the final page could be used as a major call to action: Vote for us. Don’t let the other bastards get/stay in power. Here’s a nice picture of Tim Farron kissing a baby, or stroking a goat.

What did they do instead? You’re looking at it. Nope, nothing wrong with my scanner. It’s a bloody blank page!

What idiot would do this?

OMG I just cannot believe they did this.

However many gazillion copies of their tract have they pushed out? Substandard printing, amateurish Photoshop work (or maybe it was a monkey with scissors) and worthless copy are all bad enough. But leaving an entire page blank?

In all four pages, have you noticed they didn’t even show the Lib Dem logo? C’mon guys, it’s not really that bad, is it?

I’m not sure who actually put this excuse-for-a-pamphlet together, but the publisher and promoter appears to be someone called T. Gordon.

My advice would be to give him a hug, then tell him he’s fired. Or send him on a Photoshop course, copywriting course, communications in print course, and a course that teaches what to do with four pages to fill when you can only count to three.

All revolting, noxious, repulsive stuff goes in here. And rubbish too.

I was so amazed by this original work, I found a really suitable place where I could donate every bit of this A3 sheet. Some nice people are coming soon to collect it in their lorry. Sorry it’s blue, but the council doesn’t provide yellow bins.

If you think this is all about my dislike of the Lib Dems, then you couldn’t be more wrong. If any political party had put this asinine waste of paper through my door, I would have felt the same way.

It’s about the lost art of creativity. And in this particular case, the lost art of everything.

In Part Two, I’ll be talking about how to create a moronic car advert designed by people who are totally out of touch with living people, still in kindergarten, and using only three items, none of which are a car.

Plus, as a bonus, how to write a headline that isn’t funny and no-one understands.

In the meantime, have some happy reading and viewing time…if you can.


Brand Doctor: A brief bio.

I’ve spent nearly 40 years in advertising, marketing, design and branding. Starting life as a graphic designer and copywriter, I worked for Top-100 companies. I then progressed to heading up brand consultancies responsible for sales and marketing, branding, corporate identity and advertising for Yellow Pages, Virgin, AVIVA, EMI and British Telecom to name a few.

Throughout the years, I’ve also helped smaller businesses dramatically improve profits through building a powerful brand. (Not-for-profit organisations have seen their donor income increase using my brand approach too.)

I’m also a qualified psychotherapist. How people think and behave is crucial to knowing how to brand a business, and with 15 years of experience in the field of psychology, I'm better equipped than most to deliver brands that connect and engage with customers.

Psychology is a rare ingredient in marketing, but it should really lead the way. My psychotherapy work greatly influences the approach to branding I teach and formed the basis for my international best-selling book Branding Your Business.

‘James gave two consecutive keynotes for the past two years at our annual Indonesian Superbrands Conference. He is a breath of fresh air, bringing clarity and understanding to an audience of 400 senior marketing executives hungry for knowledge of ways to create leading-edge business and branding strategies.

James is now a Member of the Board of Advisors, Most Valued Business Indonesia, an exciting new initiative to recognise brands not just for their revenue, but for their social responsibility.

Whenever James comes to Indonesia, his fans eagerly await the latest from the Brand Doctor – and they are never disappointed. Thanks James – and good luck in all you do.’

– Alistair Speirs OBE
Chairman, Superbrands Indonesia
and Most Valued Brands

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