CAMRA has found itself at the heart of the latest ‘let’s be deeply offended’ epidemic with it’s choice of limited-edition glass design for this year’s Great British Beer Festival (which is being held virtually).
As you can see in the images above, it has little virus images all over it.
On the surface of it, my first thoughts are ‘meh! Big deal’. I’m certainly not one of the ‘deeply offended’ types who have been spouting off on social media about it. On the other hand, it is a pretty bloody stupid and insensitive design when you consider that in the UK alone, that little virusy thing has killed over 40,000 people (or over 50,000, depending on which figures you go by) in under six months, with all the signs that it might do it all over again this winter unless we get a vaccine pronto.
I can see the point even more if I imagine myself in the place of people who have lost family members to it (regular readers will know I’ve been doing my damnedest not to become one of them). The problem is that it trivialises something which is very serious, and which has been difficult to control all along because of… trivialisation by so many people.
After my initial ‘meh’ thought, it then immediately struck me that this was the product of unskilled, immature, and amateurish advertising people and immature and amateurish clients approving the copy.
In my own experience, the problem started in the 90s – in my case, with the advent of ‘Teamworking’. Prior to then, skilled advertising agencies were employed to develop campaigns, and they would test them on the public before moving forward with them and presenting them to the client, being very careful to avoid controversial subjects. Obviously, that was quite expensive. But ‘Teamworking’ declared that everyone could to everything, and suddenly Gothic and film noir imagery developed by skilled advertising people was replaced with ‘let’s use a smiley face and some glitter sprinkles. And the clip art that comes free with Microsoft Word. And Comic Sans font’. Approval would be given by some guy you sat next to who thought that belching loudly was the peak of humour. We’ve gone downhill ever since.
It doesn’t matter that the organiser of the festival has had COVID-19 herself, or that she says she has permanent lung damage as a result. It isn’t just about her. This is exactly what happened with the ‘Teamworking’ thing, and it is another example of crassly ill-advised and ill-timed advertising. They might have had less of a rocky ride if it was next year’s event. But this year?
I repeat: I am not offended. I can just see it for what it is – crap advertising – and there’s a good chance I’d see it even clearer if I’d lost someone to COVID-19.