Hello! I’m Elliot, the latest addition to the ever-swelling ranks of Bristol’s own Seeker Digital. I arrived at Seeker in March 2018, with a can-do attitude and a pocketful of dreams.
What have you been up to for the last few years?
Well, I graduated from Bath Spa University in 2013 with a BA (Hons) in English Literature. As I bade farewell to the student lifestyle, I found myself working in legal finance for a multinational law firm, where I remained for four years.
I also landed myself a couple of work experience placements, including a three-month internship at Bristol-based media company Wildfire Comms. While here, I cut my teeth writing for a variety of print and digital publications on topics ranging from property and local events to animation and European infrastructure.
I also scored a two-week placement in the publicity department of the international publisher Penguin Random House and yes, it was every bit as exciting as it sounds. I spent my time writing press releases, creating placards and leaflets for author events, and sending out copies of unreleased books to journalists and critics around the world.
Very exciting. Any memorable moments?
Plenty! From free gin tasting to the time I showed Yuval Noah Harari to the toilet. But for me the highlight was coming away with no less than 52 books, all entirely free. Score.
Off the back of this placement I was offered a part-time job working for Penguin, scouring book reviews and selecting choice quotes to share on product pages on digital marketplaces like Amazon. I worked remotely at weekends, alongside my primary job at the law firm.
Sounds like you’re all work, no play?
Oh yes, almost entirely.
I thought as much. So what do you bring to your content?
Well, growing up as an awkward, unsporty child in a rural farming community, I discovered early on that to navigate the choppy social waters, it was a case of be funny or die (or at least experience severe social ostracisation).
In fact, it was in these cut-throat formative years that I learned an important lesson: it’s easier to be funny than it is to be cool. And, while this is certainly true in my social life, I posit that it’s also true for the world of marketing too.
Case in point: you might have seen German sportswear brand Puma’s maladroit attempt at marketing with their Soho “House of Hustle” event in April. Inspired by a perceived inner city gang lifestyle, attendees were sent fake £50 notes and burner phones with a pre-loaded message reading: “Yo G what u sayin today? Pass tru the House of Hustle”. The event took place in a derelict townhouse with blacked-out windows and mattresses scattered throughout.
Naturally, it was met with scorn by the general public, seen as a heavy-handed attempt at glamourising a lifestyle borne out of poverty.
The lesson I took away from it? Being cool is hard. Finding the right leather jacket that fits you, knowing the slang, walking the walk and talking the talk. It’s exhausting.
But you know what’s easier? Being funny. Because there’s only one way to be cool, but there’s thousands of ways to be funny. Slapstick, self-deprecating, surreal, alternative, dark comedy – no matter who you are or where you’re from, there’s a niche for you.
And it’s as true for marketers as it is for individuals, too.
The telecoms network Three smashed it with their #DancePonyDance advert, below:
It was good, clean fun that appealed to the very particular absurd sense of humour we are known for on these sceptred isles.
And it doesn’t even need to be especially complex either. KFC’s apology for their recent chicken shortage fiasco was as simple as it was effective:
The great thing about using humour in marketing is that even when you get it wrong, you can still sort-of get it right.
Mr Kipling, the baked goods brand and purveyor of delicious treats, released the below Christmas-themed advert way back in 2004:
You might not associate a family-oriented cake company with such humour, and although the ad did eventually lead to Manor Bakeries reassessing their contract with Saatchi & Saatchi, you have to admit: it was pretty damn funny, and pretty damn successful.
Elliot, it’s been a pleasure! Sort of. Thanks for your time!
You’re very welcome – watch this space!