Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Have You Scanned Your Nectar Card?

This question offends me.  Every time I hear it.  It's insulting and insidious, and here is why.

It comes from the self-checkout machines at Sainsbury's supermarket, if you try to pay without scanning your Nectar card.

The machines at Tesco have a different strategy.  They entreat, "Please scan or swipe your Clubcard."  There is the same intent, the same insistence, the same assumption that I wish to be a part of their covert market research campaign and have simply forgotten.  And this, I don't mind.  Because I am part of the system, I do carry both cards, I will willingly surrender my shopping history in exchange for a minuscule (to the point of being imaginary) discount.

But there is a subtle difference between the two.  Both of these only ask for my identification in the event that I have not already tendered it.  And yet J Sainsbury's have decided to phrase their request in the form of a question.  Not "Do you have a Nectar card?" or "Would you like to scan your Nectar card?" but "Have you scanned your Nectar card?"

Have I scanned my Nectar card?  You know perfectly well that I have not.  If I had, you would not be asking.

I'd much rather use a machine that assumes I am in its club, than a machine that assumes I am not intelligent enough to realise that it is aware of what information I have put into it.

In other news: you kids get off my lawn in my day why I oughtta

Friday, 26 October 2012


Concept sketch for an Eclipse Phase RPG character, based solely on the art littered around their site.

So, that's a thing.

via kingandy's gallery on deviantArt

Friday, 19 October 2012

Bad Luck

This billboard is positioned on a main road, though it's also fairly busy for pedestrians, being just down the road from a major commute train station.  So I get that it's not such a massive flaw that the text is too small to read while driving quickly past in a car.  (Also, it's Deansgate, down which nothing moves faster than a particularly lethargic sloth.)

It's just a shame they didn't know about this roadsign, which completely obscures the text from about 50% of viewing angles.  It's the only text on the board - I don't even know what it's saying, something about how their carry-on limits let you take huge jumpers on holiday - and it's got this honking great thing in the way of anyone actually engaging with it.

And even if anyone does have their eye drawn by the bold striking visual, the logo is small and inoffensive up there in the opposite corner where nobody's going to be looking.

Overall it's not a very good advert for anything except blue jumpers.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

You Asked For It

"It's classic.  It's bold.  It's Johnnie Walker.  And you ordered it."

What?  No I didn't.  Are you trying to trick me?

What is this advert trying to say?  Is it trying to compliment me on my excellent taste, because surely only people with fine reasoning skills would select such a "bold" and "classic" beverage?  Perhaps it is suggesting that, since I have already bought it - apparently by accident - I may as well bite the bullet and try it.

It's odd, because without that fanciful last line it would be a fairly standard positive advertising slogan.  With it, the quote seems bizarrely lacking in context, as though it is trying to evoke some sort of scene in which these lines are spoken.  I am genuinely struggling to conjure one.

Possibly it is positing a scenario whereby an attractive waitress is approving of my selection and will now come to bed with me.

The actress featured is Christina Hendricks, who I had to look up before I realised she was Saffron from Firefly*.  Knowing this I can only assume she is attempting to pull some sort of elaborate con.

Still, whatever the advert is actually trying to convey, it's at least fulfilled the primary objective of advertising - to get people talking about it.  It's all about brand awareness!  You can tell by the way they made the actual brand name a darker colour against the dark background.  Harder to see means easier to remember, right?

Hey, check out the cans on that dame.

* Apparently she is also in some sort of television programme about advertising, which it seems this advert is trying to emulate.  This is in itself another odd decision.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Last Year's Next Year's Big Thing

A couple of years ago I heard about YouView, the new wonder box that promised to revolutionise the way people watch TV.  It plugs a single TV listings timeline into both a PVR and your catch-up TV services, so you can basically scroll from the past into the future and either watch or set to record any given programme.  As a notion it is elegant genius.

However, now that it has been released I have no intention of buying one.

It has been priced on a par with the PS3, which already provides several catch-up TV services and has a  TV tuner (sold separately, for an amount that does not take the cheapest PS3 above the most expensive YouView box) allowing you to use the hard disk as a PVR.  And you can play games and watch blu-rays on it.  It doesn't even seem like a fair comparison.  The only thing the YouView really has going for it is increased storage space - with the PS3 you're probably looking at about 300Gb, where the equivalent-priced YouView is the terabyte model.  This may become significant if you are a hoarder of TV shows.  I am not.

It's sad, because I think if this had come out a year or two ago it may well have lived up to its revolutionary principles.  But now, you can buy a PVR for less than fifty quid, and most new TVs and movie-disk players have some sort of internet connectivity built-in for the catch-up.  I just don't think people are going to want to multiply the cost of their PVR by six simply for the ease of use of the consolidated timeline.

UPDATE: Following discussion, I've decided they're emphasising the wrong feature. Novelty value aside, the timeline feature ultimately seems quite backwards - why should one need to know when something was broadcast, and on what channel?  YouView's unique selling point is actually that all the on-demand services are in one place, and you don't need to switch between apps or know which one to fire up.  You can simply search for the program you want to watch, by name.

(Also why are they advertising it with TV shows walking around town, surely that seems more like an advert for a portable service like Netflix)

Monday, 1 October 2012

For the Young and Hungry

This is an ad for Levi's jeans. They claim to be "tailored for the young and hungry".

What does this mean? Are these clothes for the homeless? For poor people? Is it some comment on society's preference for the slim, or how "skinny" - a word once used exclusively to mean underweight rather than attractively slim - has somehow come to be a compliment?

Do I want to look like I am hungry? I find that I do not.

EDIT: Okay, so uploading photos via the mobile app sucks.  Fixed!