Martin Houlden

Most of South’s direct clients class themselves as SME’s. Sure we’ve got a quite a few sole traders, but no matter what size you are, we always ensure that we get the concept right, but also that the details are correct too.

Morrisons – the UK supermarket chain – are (sadly) not on our client list yet, but after their latest press advert, they probably wish they were. If they had been they wouldn’t have wasted thousands on an advert with a shockingly basic ‘schoolboy error…’

flag…On Christmas Eve, having wrapped up some remaining client projects, I closed the office for the holidays and headed over to Costa for a well-earned brew, and settled down with a copy of The Times. All was going well until I got to Page 28, whereon I was presented with a full page advert for Morrisons proclaiming “100% British. Who can you trust?”

I’ll admit the concept was an obvious one, and the copy a bit ‘pedestrian’ but I suppose it got the (rather simple) message across, but something still didn’t seem quite right, and it wasn’t until I took a second look at the image that I noticed the representation of the Union Flag was upside down!

It’s one of those things that’s a small detail, (the thicker white line should always be top left) but vitally important for the message to work. A union flag which is upside down denotes a vessel being “in distress” and so linking that to the headline below of “Who can you trust?” seems to provide an answer that few advertisers would pay to promote in a national newspaper!

So, I believe one of two things is happening; either Morrisons have had their half-year results and are covertly issuing a notice to senior investors to dump stock quietly without pushing prices down too quickly, or…

In a cacophony of laziness coupled with distinct lack of knowledge (or respect) for the items involved, everyone involved has failed to exercise the most basic series of checks which should be mandatory for even the smallest client. To understand the severity of what must have happened you have to understand the agency structure. This advert will have been put together by an artworker, under direction from the designer, the creative director (or the art director). This should have also been vetted by the account handling team, from the Account Execs, through to the Account Manager, and Director. But no, seemingly not one of them is familiar with how to correctly fly the flag of their nation, which when you think about it, is a pretty poor effort.

But Morrison’s themselves aren’t blameless in all of this either. Of course, as a client, you expect your agency to pitch ideas which are both conceptually and technically accurate, but surely someone inside their organisation might have been expected to notice? Indeed “Sod’s Law” dictates that when run an ‘pro-British’ advert, you’re almost bound to make a mistake that renders the opposite effect!

In summary then, whether you’re a British FTSE 100 company, a multinational blue-chip, or a sole trader running a web shop, you can be sure that we create concepts that represent what you want them to.

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