Monday, 29 August 2011

Is this another legitimate use for behavioural advertising?

"Hello Gents. And Ladies. Thank you for coming to see us at the Dept of Shockingly Good Ideas today. As you know, our ministers are a bit tired of some of your customers using their smart phones to organise mayhem every now and again, and we were wondering what you have decided to do before Parliament gets even more upset."

Excuse me, Mr Official – what do you mean?

"Well, we may live in a democracy, but we can’t have these oiks using their smart phones to actually incite each other to riot – that’s just not cricket."

So can you explain what it is you want us to do?

"Can’t you develop some sort of “oik app” – you know, the sort where the smart phone cunningly realises it’s owner is an oik, so you can send them a bit of Debussy or something to calm them down when they get a bit jumpy?"

And how do you think this “oik app” would know whether its owner is an oik?

"Ah – well, we’ve been hearing about some advertisers who are getting awfully excited about all this behavioural advertising thingimny stuff. We’re not quite sure what they’re talking about, but we think it will make someone lots of money so it’s bound to work. Anyway, after exhaustive research, our consultants have decided what characteristics define most oiks, and we just want you to locate them and then send them the Debussy when the going gets tough. My dentist tells me that a good dose of “Clair de Lune” always gets his patients relaxed when they’re tense and excited, so it’s bound to do the same for them."

Now tell us, what are the defining characteristics of these oiks, please?

"Well, according to their probation officers, most of them:

- Can’t wake up (so won’t use their devices) before 10am
- Always vote for the girl contestants on X factor
- Surf for almost as long on as they do on Facebook each day
- Know the price of the latest trainers on
- Prefer hoodies to wearing beanies
- Spend more time on instant messenger than talking to anyone
- Almost had a job – once"

I’m sorry, Mr Official. We’re not allowed to do this behavioural advertising thingimny stuff without the oik’s consent, you know. And why would they want to consent if all they were going to get out of it was a bit of Debussy once in a while?

"Waddayamean consent? This is the Government talking to you now, you know. If we want you to send them a dose of Debussy, then they’re going to get a dose of Debussy. We don’t want to hear any of this “oh, what about their human rights” rubbish from the likes of you. We get enough of that from them."

I’m sorry Mr Official, but this conversation really is going too far. We’re really not keen on being accused of interfering with the basic rights of British citizens. Can’t you think of another idea to pacify your ministers?

"Well, in that case could we slip you a list of politician’s children and spouses, and ask you to turn their phones off when there’s any trouble, so they don’t end up joining in, getting arrested, and making a spectacle of themselves? They might end up with such notoriety that they'll be offered work on some tawdry celebrity reality television show. Now, that really would be unthinkable."

I’m sorry Mr Official, but not even we would want to influence what politicians’ children and spouses get up to. I suggest you have a quiet word with the politicians. Tell them it’s all about good parenting. And if they don’t want their spouses and kids to communicate with their mates, then they ought to confiscate their phones themselves – and not get someone else to do it for them.

"I see. So when I write this meeting up for Freedom Of Information purposes, I’ll explain that constructive discussions took place, and that industry officials undertook to reconsider their corporate and social responsibilities and report back to ministers in due course?"

Whatever, Mr Official. Write whatever you like. It’s still a firm “no” as far as we are concerned.