It is a genuine poster on display outside the Pets At Home store in Leamington Spa.
I saw it last week and it literally stopped me in my tracks. I had to take a photo of it, such was my disbelief.
That poor woman! That was my initial thought. That poor, poor woman. Because she doesn’t look like a model or a stand-in (I have pixellated her face to protect her identity – though I acknowledge the futility of that considering she’s on a 6ft poster outside the store for all to see). She looks the genuine article. A real, bona fide store assistant. Some poor women who got called to the manager’s office one day and told to sit down in the comfy seat. The one with arms and a swivel mechanism that works.
“Barbara,” the manager would have said. “Babs. Do you mind if I call you Babs?”
And she would have smiled sweetly and thought, “Shit, he’s either going to fire me or I’m going to have to suck him off to get promotion.”
And then the manager would have revealed the truth. No sucking off. Just sucking.
“Babs, we would like you to be the face of our new campaign. Out of thousands of employees we have chosen yours as the face of our new marketing drive to encourage pet owners to check their beloved pets for fleas and worms. Yours is the visage that says, ‘Yes, I am an expert in this field and I am approachable if you wish to discuss your flea and worm problems.’ We’ve even had a T-shirt made up in your size. Slip it on, Babs, the photographer is downstairs waiting. Or I can give you your P45 if you prefer?”
And that was it. Deal done. Fate sealed. Picture taken. Credibility broken upon the cold altar of commerce.
That poor woman.
Is this the new MO for marketing campaigns? Is this a sign of how things are going to go?
CBeebies stalwart Justin Fletcher splayed on a poster with the words “Ask me about CRB checks” written in bold Comic Sans MS type beneath his clownish features?
A nice big political campaign poster of David Cameron above the words “Ask me about integrity, fairness and how to protect the rights of the vulnerable”?
How about G4S frontman Nick ‘Buckles under pressure’ with the words: “Ask me about your safety at the Olympi... whoops...!” or Rupert Murdoch “Ask me about a citizen’s right to privacy”?
The list, unlike this blog post, is I am sure endless.
But please don’t ask me about it.