Brewer's Droop #212

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I’ve often wondered why I suddenly developed this urge to punch Jeremy Clarkson in the mouth. I mean, he’s one of my favourite writers and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every book and newspaper column of his that I’ve read.

But the moment I see his face on the TV I get this incredible urge to reach for a baseball bat. I’m incredibly grateful that I was never in the same building as him on his visits to South Africa otherwise I may have been writing this with a stubby pencil on an empty fag packet in prison somewhere.

It’s not because he’s so ugly (the pot swearing at the kettle springs to mind). It’s not his ridiculous haircut either. It’s not because he comes from north of the Thames or that he’s a car fanatic. None of those things.

So why does he make my flesh crawl?

Well, I think I’ve worked it out. It was something Rob Brydon said on a TV show once (now there’s a guy I admire and like very much – very funny man). He said “no matter what time of day or what channel you turn to, you’ll always see Jeremy Clarkson – his shows are repeated more than anyone else’s and you can’t escape.” (Or words to that effect).

Then I was driving the other day and listening to Cape Talk and an advertisement came on. I can’t remember the name of the product because the voice irritates me so much that I always turn the radio off so I never hear the end. As I clicked the “off” button I realised that I’ve been doing this several times a day for what seems ages – the ad is flighted bloody millions of times and I automatically switch it off.

There are a couple of TV ads like that too. I simply have to change channel or turn the whole thing off because I cannot bear to watch them again. Simply. Cannot. Bear. To.

I think it was Raymond Rubicam who said “the value of an ad is in inverse ratio to the number of times it has been used.” And this is certainly true for me and most other consumers of media too.

I don’t blame the media planners at all (much). I blame the clients more. More specifically, I blame those clients who say to their agencies “it’s our American head office policy (where only accountants survive) to insist that each campaign achieve 400 Rating points. No more, no less.”

A “Rating Point” is basically one percent of your target market. Therefore if 10% of your market is watching the TV show in which your ad appears you’ll get 10 Rating Points. If you repeat the ad then you calculate the “Gross” rating points as 10 x 2 = 20.

It will already be obvious that if you keep on repeating the same ad your “Gross Rating Points” will increase and eventually you’ll reach that magic number the American accountants want you to get.

And so time and space is bought on that basis – as insane as that sounds.

Which brings me to my point (at last). This is the reason I turn off Cape Talk 5 times in a 20 minute drive. It’s also the reason I fast-forward through some of the TV ads – or change channel.

Flooding the media with advertisements in order to reach the Holy Grail of Rating Points actually builds consumer resentment.

And it’s the same with Jeremy Clarkson. Every bloody time I turn on the TV there he is (or there’s a trailer for his next show).

But now I know the reason why I’d like to drive over his head with a Massey Ferguson perhaps I can learn to like and respect him again. Although I can’t see me willingly watching his TV shows. They’re a bit silly after all.

They said, back in the 1960’s when I first became fascinated with advertising that “This business of trying to measure everything in precise terms is one of the problems with advertising today. This leads to a worship of research. We’re all concerned about the facts we get and not about how provocative we can make those facts to the consumer.”

To Madison Avenue in New York, Wardour Street in London and President Street in Johannesburg of that era, fixated and engorged on facts and numbers, viewing and audience ratings, this was heresy close to madness. (They just didn’t realise at the time that they’d mixed up the axes on their graphs and that the madness actually belonged to the researchers.)

Sometimes you become so involved in the day-to-day humdrum of life that you don’t see the extraordinary or the obvious anymore.

For example, the next time you’re in London, pause for a while and watch the people passing under the big clock of Westminster House (“Big Ben” for want of a better word). They’ll check their watches or cell phones for an accurate time reading but not think to just casually glance up at the most famous clock in the world.

So when I do see Jeremy Clarkson (which I’m bound to do since I’m sure he’ll be so upset when he hears about my problem) I’ll tell him that he should stop his producers making so many bloody “Top Gear” episodes – at the last count there were 20 of them! No wonder people like me are getting sick of the sight of him.

And the last note on this subject is to the media owners responsible for airing a TV (or radio) commercial more than about 6 times in the same time channel. Please desist immediately. You are losing viewers and listeners, not gaining any. If you just take the time to think about it you’ll understand what I mean.


In preparation for the next blow from our nanny state, the Future Group will be presenting “Cheers to Booze” at the next AdForum.

Under the threat of impending clampdown-legislation how are the SA liquor brands performing and how has their strategy changed? Is the creative product any different and is it now harder to sell liquor to thirsty consumers?

It will be held on Friday, 30 August at the Vega School, Randburg.

We have to stand together on this one guys.

You can book by contacting Sabrina Scherf at 011-803-2040


Have you ever wondered how the right ad gets flighted at the right time? How many have you seen being aired at the wrong time? It’s been a serious problem for decades.

My friend, Amanda Gill has sorted it all out and her company, Media Span, is ready to launch the National Coding System.

When this takes off all codes will be issued from one central point.

1. No duplication
2. Easier to track for research purposes
3. 1,400 average new codes per month or 17,000 p.a.
4. SABC, ETV, DSTV, SAARF and AMF are fully behind this new initiative.
5. The ACA are currently putting it to the test.
6. Once TV is running, Radio will follow.
7. Go to MediaSpan to register and test 

Best of all, the new system not only acts as an insurance policy for marketers and Advertisers but, as a bonus, there is five years of historic research data available.

Brilliant idea. Watch this space!

It’ll be Spring in a couple of weeks – so give your sap a chance to rise. But I wonder what happened to Winter? (Come to think of it where did the first half of this year go to?)


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  1. At last! Someone else who doesn’t like Clarckson – he’s such a chauvenist pig.

  2. I thought you’d stopped smoking? If so why is that stogie hanging from your gob?

    • You, of all people should have worked that one out quickly – because I’m just too bloody lazy to put up another one.

  3. I can remember loving some ads back in the ’80s, the jingles from the VW (you and me, we all believe in quality), to Phillips (what did you do with your Phillips today?) to Oros (We love living in an Oros world) probably stay with me because I looked forward to seeing them as they weren’t shoved down my throat. I’ve taught them to my children and we lament the loss of good old jingles, except for Dairybelle (have a ding dong day dairy bell) there are no old ones that are still used, or new ones that we sing for fun or because they are catchy – even Omo (eh-eh) got tiresome after a while.

  4. I am so with you there Chris! A more arrogant, disrespectful human being I have yet to meet!

    • Yep – come to think of it, he’d be very popular with our politicians I expect. They have a lot in common.

  5. If anyone can foul up the National Coding System it will be GuptaVision! By the way I feel the same about Clarkson and others North of the Thames!

  6. Oh, is that who Jeremy Clarkson is? Have never heardd his name before. When I see Top Gear, I switch channels! have never watched one.. And do ditto when I hear ads ad nauseam, or switch off. But, I love the talking Toyota dog!!

  7. At last! I know there are lots of people who think Top Gear is the reason TV was invented, but I am not one of them. My dislike for JC (apart from the initials) is that he embodies all of the things I remember about bullies – large, overbearing, loud, opinionated, self-important and repetitive.
    As for the show – overpaid louts terrorising the public – aren’t they what ASBOs were designed to stop!

  8. Chris, some say that you are very fast in a “reasonably-priced car” and that your ample humour is due to having been exposed to countless readings of published Clarksonisms…………….. we just call you “The Droop”. 😉

  9. If you think buying of ad space sounds crazy you should read a book called The Art of Thinking Clearly. Amazing book, and not a lot of us can be credited with doing it.

  10. Funny thing, I’ve just watched a Clarkson video on You Tube, about the VC (Victoria Cross) and what it takes to win one. It was actually very good!
    Jeremy Clarkson: War Stories: THE VICTORIA CROSS: FOR VALOUR
    THE VICTORIA CROSS: FOR VALOUR “The best programme Jeremy Clarkson has ever made… informative and poignant.” the observer In September 1944 at the Battle o…

    • Yeah, think I saw that one. Do I get a VC for watching?

  11. While I fully agree with you, oh namesake, I must thank JC for the inspiration he has brought to my life. I try hard, very hard sometimes, to be a respectful, decent and kind person, not given to fits or irrational rage and lashing out. JC and his arrogant, puggy face, along with his self-importantly annoying attitudes, have pushed me to my limits – thereby offering an opportunity to test my human limits and to rise above the overwhelming desire to put my foot though the TV screen and all the way down his throat. As you can see, I still have a lone way to go to reach an attitude of quiet serenity in the face of extreme aggravation. Ah well, no doubt many more opportunities to achieve a Zen state will be presented as the inevitable JC visage, and accompany avalanche of verbal manure, will be unavoidable on screens – possibly for all time. Just how many episodes of any one programme could there possibly be, anyway?

  12. I have NO interest in cars (other than getting me from A to B) but LUV Top Gear and don’t miss an episode – love the genial banter between the three of them and the robust humour! Yes – I will admit JC is probably an A-hole in REAL life as well….he once called the wee cutie-pie one a “fridge magnet” when he won a place on someone’s “sexiest man” list – jealousy no doubt ! Chris – you aren’t perhaps the person stalking/threatening him at the moment, are you ???!!! LOL

    • “genial banter” and “robust humour”? How much merlot have you had?

      I know you’re not one of those “poppies” who are happy standing behind all the “chommies” at the braai pretending to be interested in cars and rugby – so I think you must have your programmes mixed up sweetie.

  13. Agree. I think our conversion from like to dislike has something to do with the fact that initially I thought I had “discovered” something – an ordinary old motor car programme with a presenter that was amazing.

    Then he became the world’s top rated show with USA, SA, Aussie and perhaps even Russian versions and I found I was one of the millions of followers, a thing which I hate being.

    Like getting in a queue. Like I hate being caught watching those Unilever ads with ladies comparing their sparkling washing. Boring. One of the mill.

    Like lining up to worship Jeremy Clarkson as if was head of Reema church.

    You punch him first.


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