Monday, 9 July 2012

Worth Its Weight In Gold?

English: A 1st generation Apple iPad. This is ...
English: A 1st generation Apple iPad. This is the 32GB WiFi model and shows the home screen. Please check my Wikimedia User Gallery for all of my public domain works. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Back in the distant past, when Dubai was all sand and mobile phones a novelty (and dinosaurs ruled the earth), we were regularly beaten down with offers to win a bar of gold. It was all Dubai's ad agencies could seem to think of, win gold was a sort of promotional catechism and nothing else seemed to matter.

'We want an ad campaign.'
'Sure. How much gold can people win?'
'We were thinking of five ten tola bars for runners up and a kilo as the first prize?'
'That should do it. We'll get cracking on the creative.'

The 'creative' usually included The Dubai Radio Ad, where Bob would meet Jim at the lights and wonder where Jim was in such a hurry to get to. Jim would reply that the Khara Centre is giving away a bar of gold. It is mandatory at this stage to have Bob and Jim repeat the phrases 'A bar of gold?' and 'Yes, a bar of gold!'. Preferably breathlessly and in the excited tones of someone who has just discovered that snorting cocaine and breathing helium are quite fun when done in unison. Bob would then speed off, with Jim wondering where he is in such a rush to get to. The Khara Centre, of course.

I once knew a successful ad executive who come here from Hong Kong. Over the months I watched his slow decline into chronic alcoholism as every idea, scheme and stunt he came up with was met with, 'Yes, that's all very nice. And the bar of gold?'. I had to stop meeting him in the end, my liver couldn't take the lunches. I lost track of him, but believe he eventually left. It's the only time in my life I've sympathised with someone in advertising.

Now there's a worrying trend emerging. I'm starting to hear those self same radio ads again, but this time there's no bar of gold. It's iPads. Yes, win an iPad! An iPad? Yes! An iPad! What do I have to do?

It's confirmation that the iPad is now widely seen as a Most Desirable Thing, as desirable in fact as a bar of gold. You'd have thought that was all a bit behind the curve, but then look at the increasing number of stupid ways people are finding to try and have some of that Apple 'halo brand' spangle dust stick to their sloppy brands.

I posted a short while ago about the pointless restaurant that doled out iPads instead of menus. Colleague Carriington reports of a restaurant in the Ramada that goes one step further than using an iPad as a like for like dumb replacement for paper - this restaurant lets you select what you want using the iPad and the application has an 'order' button so your order can be placed with the kitchen. Guests are asked not to press this button but hand the tablet back to staff so they can place the order. Brilliant.

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1 comment:

Paul J said...

To see the menu application working well in restaurants try Kempinski Hotel, MOE, Bar 1897 or Hunters Steakhouse, Westin Hotel, Mina Seyahi. Its not about the ipad but about the application and how adaptable it is with regards what the restaurant wants to use it for. Clearly the places you and your colleague have seen a menu application working have not grasped what they want and are using it as a gimmick. Maybe they bought it off the shelf and did not realise they couldn't change it!

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