Cheese crime, corduroy and a plague in Kent

Sometimes you get the feeling that it’s life itself that makes life enjoyable.  A look at what’s been happening in the world over the past week bears this out – and relax, this is no place for thoughts on the Eurozone fiasco, although there’s plenty of scope there.  Next month maybe.

What?  Losing you already?  Blimey – back to proper subjects like cheese and corduroy.

Let’s start with cheese.  Theft is increasing at UK retail outlets.  It’s gone up by 6.2% over the past year, and we’re leading the Continent on this (about time we showed our supremacy over Johnny Foreigner).  And what looms largest in our championship-class shoplifters’ sights?


Yes.  Cheese.  It comes in as the highest-percentage category of stolen goods.  People steal more cheese than anything else.

Hang on, though. Remember the riots?  Call to mind those leisurewear-clad honchos carrying wide-screen TVs and boxes of trainers. Did you see anyone swaggering off with a pound of Gorgonzola?  I didn’t notice it, but maybe they stuffed the item down their baggy jeans.  Might impress the gels, come to think of it.

Yet I suspect this August’s events will skew the figures for next year’s stolen merchandise report – but don’t be misled by a burst of midsummer madness.  Some things are eternal, man, and cheese is for ever.

But what do the miscreants do with their booty?  It’s hard to imagine whispered conversations in the pub followed by a furtive swap of pongy dairy produce and crisp fivers.  And there’s a lot of image consciousness in this sort of thing. We’ve seen heroin-chic on the catwalks but Stilton-chic seems a long way off.

Talking of clothes, cheese is certainly a risky accessory.  I knew a chap who once carried a legitimately-purchased quarter of Roquefort home in his mac pocket.   He threw the mac away.

But forget the doubts.  Let’s celebrate our leadership in something, even if it’s only shoplifting.  And cheers for cheese.

Now, corduroy.

November 11th is a significant date for the most noble of reasons.  But this year it has an added import.  The Corduroy Appreciation Club is holding a special get-together in Brooklyn as part of a world-wide celebration by lovers of the ribbed cotton material.

Why 11.11.11?  Because if you take out the full stops, call it 111111 and look at it with your eyes screwed up a bit, the date looks a little like a piece of corduroy.  So corduroy appreciators from far and wide will be gathering to mark the occasion.

What will they do at the event? Apparently they’ll be addressed by a leading light in the corduroy appreciation world who will deliver his corduroy thoughts to the heaving throng.  They’ll also link up with the corduroy community throughout the world, who will be observing the day in celebratory mood.  Presumably spaghetti is on the menu.  I’d love to be there but I’ve a pressing engagement with a wedge of gruyere at Sainsbury’s.

Finally, the plague.

The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury finally opened last week, and Prince William did the ritual honours.  It seems he cracked a few jokes so the local newspaper christened him the  Clown Prince.  That’s not bad, in the light of the absolute rule in local press to force a pun into the headline (‘Brown Owl a hoot at Guides’ Christmas Show’ etc).

But the headline writer forgot that although a spell check will tell you you’ve spelt a word correctly, it might be one letter out from the word you were aiming for.  So how’s this for the world’s worst-ever come-on to potential audiences: ‘Clown prince unveils plague at city’s new theatre’.

All that makes life worth living.  But it also reminded me of the creative process in putting an advertising campaign together.

There are times when you follow the strategy religiously and come up with an entirely logical response to the planning brief.  The outcome?  Correct but predictable.

There are other, much more satisfying, occasions when you start at the other end, come up with something outrageous, then work back to see if it fits, no matter how unexpectedly.   You say: “Let’s start with a penguin,” or “How about a slice of toast?”.  Then you track back and find this could be a remarkably engaging and effective way of promoting a cycle retailer or a software company.  You have to work hard to do it, but the result is always better than the conventional route.

So cheese and corduroy and plagues – you’ve grabbed my attention with unlikely conjunctions.   I just wouldn’t choose the plague route myself.


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