My dog’s confused about the Royal Mail flotation.
He’s always hated the postman. Anyone who shoves final demands through the letterbox is to be strongly discouraged, and I’m with him there. But our postman’s a lovely chap, and while he’s still got his fingers he continues to deliver the goods – and the bads – every morning with unfailing cheeriness.
He’s a familiar feature, and dogs love routine. The daily skirmish at the doormat is reassuring sign of consistency. Anything that might affect it should be examined carefully. So, as a TV watcher and member of a media-involved household, the resident hound has a big question:
Where was the multi-million pound advertising campaign?
His antecedents – Jack Russells, so a bit potty – used to bark when the phone rang. This was a useful alert in the days of one-receiver households. They would then howl throughout the following conversation, thinking it was a valuable contribution to the ritual. It made business calls a bit tricky, but at least they were acknowledging the significance of BT in their lives.
So in the 80s, when the government launched BT’s share issue with a massive ad campaign, the dogs knew it was happening and appreciated the effort. Maureen Lipman dominated the airwaves in a series of artfully scripted and produced commercials. Press, posters and radio combined to make the message unmissable.
Shortly afterwards, British Gas hit the media with its own privatisation campaign. “Tell Sid” was always a bit weird as a theme line, but once again the viewing, reading and listening public were in no danger of missing what was going on. The dogs weren’t too interested in gas as a utility, to be honest, but they were very keen on food and, by extension, cooking, so they kept themselves informed, as adults should.
But the Royal Mail? It’s all been extremely low-key. Granted, the offer is mainly to institutional investors, but we ad folk like to see a bit of a splash, if only to keep our writing and art direction hands in during straitened times.
So the dog’s puzzled about something that’s an important part of his life. Will the mail still be called ‘royal’ when it’s owned by hedge funds, or will it be modishly reincarnated as ‘PostModern’? As proprietorship inevitably changes hands, will stamps eventually bear the noble silhouette of Richard Branson? Will a new logo and livery make it hard to recognise the daily invader through the frosted glass?
Dogs don’t like change unless Maureen Lipman’s involved.