BT's Vision

BT's Vision

Adam and Jane on the phone to each other...although it appears as if they are in the same room...

Adam and Jane on the phone to each other...although it appears as if they are in the same room...

First published in Eddie Watson St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by

Advertisements in the past few years have become increasingly inadequate at doing the job they were created for. Certainly, it doesn’t help that people generally hate adverts in the first place. That has been the case since the wheel was invented and the creator tried to flaunt it off to his fellow cavemen. In modern times, advertisements on Television have come under threat. The aggressor: Sky plus and online on demand services such as 4od. More the Sky plus thing though as 4od still have some adverts. Pausing, rewinding, and fast forwarding TV could see the death of the traditional advertisement with its exceedingly jaunty tone and nauseatingly exaggerated acting. What a pity. Anyway, this has lead many brands to seriously think about their marketing strategies with the most recent being BT’s utterly futile appeal to get people to vote for the destiny of the couple in their adverts (which seems to be going on forever, at this rate we’ll probably be voting for the last words on their deathbeds).

In case you haven’t seen the adverts, they show a woman holding her belly – almost as if she’s pregnant, but that is subtle and ALMOST unnoticeable – and the husband ringing her (with his BT landline of course) to see if she’s all right. Then apparently we have to decide what happens next. Well, her being pregnant is most likely what is going to happen next…and with 70% of the vote it was the outcome the ‘viewers chose’. Which I love. Not for the compassionate majority who voted for the obvious answer but because 30% of people that voted were cynical enough not to vote for a fictional child to be born. At least I presume they voted against a baby, like some sort of twisted fictional contraception/abortion, you can’t really tell though unless you actually did vote. It doesn’t seem like it was multiple choice but rather a simple cross for baby or no baby. Personally I’d have loved to see the next advert collaborating with Rennie soft chews and feature the wife holding her stomach because of a particularly bad bout of indigestion. Thus misleading audiences everywhere! Unfortunately the advert is going to be her telling him the news over dinner and it all being lovely. Spoil sports.

It does beg the question why make a public vote at all? It was abundantly clear they were going to do that narrative; in fact I’d put money on them only preparing to film the one advert with the outcome the advertisers intended. As much as that question seems rhetorical there is actually a very pessimistic answer. Well I say very, I mean quite a pessimistic answer – it’s not deeply damning and depressing. Two words: audience interaction. It links back to this idea of marketers trying new things to keep adverts fresh. Encouraging people to go to the website and vote sways them to look around the website and ‘oh Broadband and evening weekend calls for £6.99 for three months’ then bam. They have you. Ok, maybe it’s not quite that instantaneous but it’s bound to work on some people. That said, I currently am in a household using BT vision, BT broadband, and a BT landline. Although I hasten to add it was not because of these adverts but for a very slick salesman in Watford and a promise of having ESPN to watch Premier League football along with being able to pause live TV. Which brings me back again to skipping adverts. I love it; it’s great – even though Sky plus is better… I suppose they are just adverts after all. Personally I can’t say I feel any sort of emotional connection with the characters; hence why I didn’t care enough to vote. Mainly because the guy who stars in them was far funnier in ‘My Family’. If adverts are truly dying out then a public vote won’t save them. Especially if destroying them means no more Go Compare operatics.

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