Propositions built on sand

If you caught my last Thomson rant about the use of the word ‘passion’ you’d be forgiven for thinking I had it in for them.

I haven’t.

I’ve got it well and truly in for lazy copy and even more idle propositions. And because I’ve written a few ads, brochures and emails for a couple of Tui brands, I do feel somewhat emotionally involved.

This banner that popped up while I checked my emails online is a case in point.

Often, when creating a proposition for an offer, a campaign or indeed a whole brand, it’s worth sense-checking it with the question, ‘So what?’ Okay, if you’re in marketing, that’s a given in most cases. But it’s also very worth while, once you’ve created your proposition, asking a further question:

‘As opposed to what?’

If the answer to the above question is something you should definitely not be doing then you need to take your proposition back to the drawing board. Because more than likely, you’ll have created a proposition that merely covers off something you should be doing anyway. It’s something often called the hygiene factor by those with ‘Marketing’ in their job title and you can bet your bottom dollar it’s not really pushing a USP (unique selling proposition or point). A USP that will create your own little (or hopefully, big) space within a market that’s shark-infested with your competitors.

Let’s just think about ‘Holidays built with you in mind’.

Aside from the fact I don’t really want my valuable time off constructed for me, I’d like to know this: if Thomson are now indeed creating holidays with customers as the sole focus – what the hell is everyone else in the travel industry doing?

Holidays built with the annoying couple that’ll latch onto you on the first night and never let go until you land back home in mind?

Holidays built with the rest of the family you really don’t get on with that loves it when you spend more than a week away in mind?

Holidays built with slimy pickpockets waiting to fleece you of your Euros in mind?

Oh no… I guess they would have to be built with ‘you’ in mind. After all, ‘you’ fits in a 160×600 banner a little better.

And if they are now built with you in mind what the hell where Thomson doing before?

You’ll find these kind of propositions on the same shelf as marketing no-nos such as ‘passionate’.

Why? Because you could apply this kind of proposition to just about every product on the planet.

iPhones built with you in mind.

Houses built with you in mind.

Wallpaper built with you in mind.

That’s right, wallpaper – just like this type of proposition – a proposition that’s built with anything but you in mind.


Larner Caleb

Freelance Copy, Concepts,
Branding & Creative Direction



    Follow @LarnerC


    • FletchtheMonkey
      November 9, 2010 - 9:21 am

      Do consumers go through that same analysis when they come across the 1,000 odd marketing messages they deal with daily?

      The ad isn’t the whole brand proposition, it’s just a means to a click, a slice of awareness or recall, or a ‘call to action’. Does it have to carry the whole proposition, or just it just have to do enough to engage with someone, to distract them for one second in a cluttered landscape.

      The use of the word ‘You’ in ads is a simple way to do this, perhaps that’s all it needs?

    • Larner
      January 17, 2011 - 12:03 pm

      Completely agree with you Mr. Monkey – the ad isn’t the whole brand proposition. But I firmly believe every ad, indeed every brief, has to have a proposition.

      For instance, The Co-op’s brand proposition might be ‘your local store’ but I’d take the proposition of their current TV ads to be ‘convenience’.

      That’s just my take on it and yes I agree it’s hard to imagine us punters going through the same in-depth analysis on every one of 1,000 daily messages. But as a potential customer, if you haven’t had the proposition embedded in your brain, then the ad hasn’t worked as well as it could.

      Cheers for your comment and thanks for stopping by – always appreciated!

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