Back to the 1950s with a sexist Quidco advert – an email

Another masterpiece from Quidco

Having not yet cracked under the relentless stream of crap adverts and paid up for Spotify I have no choice but to listen to the products of the nation’s best and brightest advertising executives. A recent ad from Quidco went beyond being merely irritating into the territory of the outright insulting. In response to their carefully thought out campaign ‘Fight the signs of thinning wallet’ I sent the email below to Quidco, to one Jo Roberts, head of marketing.

Hi Jo, the only conclusion I can draw from the Quidco advert on Spotify (in which you imply that women are largely attracted to a man’s wallet) is that you think your target market is sexist in a kind of 1950s Mad Men style. This may in fact be the case. I also have to listen to the advert and am not sexist but possibly I am not your target market (my membership of Quidco is pretty inactive but I do already have an account so need no persuasion). I was wondering if you have done much research to back up the assumption of your audience’s sexism. If so I’d be interested to see this. I admit to being surprised. If time-travelling back to 1950s gender stereotyping were that lucrative I’d expect more people to be doing it. I look forward then to hearing what it is that has led you to believe this is a good way forward.

I think that you are yourself a woman, so I’d also be interested to know your personal experience of choosing a man by the contents of his wallet. I’d like to know how that has worked out for you and so on. Perhaps you did not do this however. Perhaps instead you thought “What’s a little lighthearted sexism between friends?” But we’re not friends are we Jo? And most of the people who listen to that advert are not your friends. And you do not know how people will read the sexism. Because some people actually do believe women are just interested in a man’s wallet. I’ve met some of the British sex tourists in Thailand who thought exactly that in the UK and went to Thailand to find ‘girlfriends’ who would confirm all their prejudices. Come to think of it, was this your target market? The sex tourists of the future? That would make sense. If so I have underestimated your targetting.

You may however wish to have a word with Spotify about their targetting. I think the Baka Beyond fan/sex tourist crossover market is smaller than you might wish.

Regards

Bedresistance

For those interested, Baka Beyond play West African/Celtic fusion. It isn’t really true to say I’m a fan – they’re a bit too easy-listening for me – but I listen to them from time to time.

Now I also copied Spotify into this email. They had a category on their contact form called, and I quote exactly ‘Share something fun :)’, so I wrote a little intro saying ‘Hi Spotify! I know you like us to share fun things with you! So below is a copy of an email I sent to Quidco. Enjoy!’

I had no particular axe to grind with Spotify. They are still struggling financially and would probably sell their grandmother’s corpse to a necrophiliac for a bit of extra ad revenue, so I sent off the email and thought nothing more of it. Until they served me up this slice of grating corporate chirpiness:

Hay (sic) Jacob,

Sorry. We might have got that one wrong please forgive us…. 〷◠‿◠〷

I have let our content team know and they will definitely keep an eye on this type of content.

Thanks for raising your points with us.

Kind Regards and a friendly smile,

John L

Spotify Customer Service – Cambridge

George Leonard:
At the root of all power and motion, there is music
and rhythm, the play of patterned frequencies against
the matrix of time, Before we make music, music makes us.

Now perhaps I should feel grateful that Spotify responded and said they’d pass it on. But here’s the thing John L, if I can call you that: I hate to dent your no doubt 100% genuine twenty-four hour effervescence, but a cute picture in company emails is a poor substitute for functioning brains and a sense of ethics. Isn’t it now? I rather feel that I should never have had to send this email.

I’ll update you all if the Quidco marketing geniuses get around to replying between bouts of patronising their customers.

What to say when people say… we’d have better wages and public services without immigration

We can live every day like this or we can change their skin to white but that won't change the fact you're paid £5.93 an hour

I usually try to write (slightly) funnier posts than this, but yesterday I read this article and I’ve been thinking about it, y’know, seriously. So I’m not going to do a funny post about how the English Defence League couldn’t organise a piss-up in a British brewery because they all drink shit foreign lagers. Instead there is just one point to make. I think it is the most important response to this line of argument. It’s not an argument that we be nicer to foreigners. It’s not a plea for us all to get along. It’s not a request for a society that looks like a Benetton advert because that will ‘make life more colourful’.

Here it is: The level of wages and the level of public services depends on who has the power in society. As a society we have the resources to pay better wages. We have the resources for better public services. We are, collectively, wealthier than most other societies around today and wealthier than any society at any time in history you care to name.

Better wages and better public services don’t happen because those people and institutions who hold most of the money don’t want to share it around. And they pay our politicians in order to stop it being spread around. Some of them are our politicians. And they are very happy for people to carry right on blaming immigrants.

If your wages are shit, if your hospital is shit, if your street lights don’t work, it’s because you don’t have the power to claim the resources that are available to solve all those problems. So take more power for yourself, and when you do, you’ll find it doesn’t make a bit of difference how much immigration there is, except in one sense: if you can join with immigrants to claim better wages or better public services your numbers will be boosted and you’ll find you have even more power.

The level of wages and the level of public services are not about the number of people in a country (otherwise the quality of life would be better in Belgium than in Spain and if you’ve been to Belgium you’ll know it isn’t) but about who has the power and who has the money. The liberal opponents of racism are uncomfortable talking about naked power and economics, partly because many of them are at the higher powered, more moneyed end of the spectrum. They respond to anti-immigrant rhetoric with descriptions of the economic benefits of immigration, or a plea for valuing difference. Bollocks to valuing difference – no-one who didn’t value it was ever convinced to start valuing it because a well-meaning person asked them to. Instead let’s value our own power. Rather than fighting over scraps against people who have less than us we should ensure we have control of the resources we all collectively create.

How to get to that position? There are no easy solutions, and it’s not going to fit into a blog post. But blaming immigrants is only playing the game of the people you really need to fight.