‘Blackburn man does five lines of cocaine, has a forty-minute wank in a beer garden, is arrested’

  • And Another Thing ...
  • October 19, 2015
  • Paul Catmur
‘Blackburn man does five lines of cocaine, has a forty-minute wank in a beer garden, is arrested’
Brendan Boughen

Michael Brian Scott is the Blackburn man standing trial for this curious offence which was widely reported in the UK press and set the internet spluttering into its double shot lattes last week.

The whole sordid business raises a number of interesting questions among which are: where was name suppression when Michael Brian Scott of Mosley St, Blackburn, Lancashire so badly needed it? Why was someone timing him in the first place? And what does his partner think of it? Actually we know the answer to the last question, she finds his behaviour "difficult to explain". Even so, I’d really like to see him try.

But wait, there’s more. According to reports the offence took place under a Thwaites beer branded umbrella. Have we been duped? Was this actually a cunning social media activation aimed at testing the theory that there’s no such thing as bad publicity? Unlikely as it is that a brewery would sink so low, the next time you spot a drug-fuelled Lancastrian pleasuring himself in a beer garden I suggest you check the bushes. If you find a social media type with a beard and skinny jeans but no socks, filming your reaction on an iPhone you’ll know something’s up.

It seems strange, but after 20-odd years of the internet there is still the occasional request from those who should really know better to ‘do something viral’. Stories like the Blackburn self-pleasurer once again demonstrate what a difficult seed the internet is to sow. I shall provide a link for this story (should you have somehow missed it) but I shall leave it until the end of the article because once you’ve been sidetracked by this cautionary tale you’re unlikely to return.

As much as I kid myself how interesting my writing is, most of you are only reading this because the headline promised so much more than the average NZ Marketing article. Not that we should blame the StopPress editor for this, he can’t control the hordes of cats, otters, naked celebrities and bizarre criminals throwing themselves at the internet with time-wasting stories that tempt us with their wares.

A truth which we constantly choose to ignore is that what we want consumers to watch are very rarely the things they actually watch, when given a choice. And more and more, they have a choice. That’s why the TV networks charge us so much to waft our messages under captive consumers’ noses that we crave the thought of getting free attention on the internet. Somehow we manage to ignore the mounting evidence that just because we have a digital banner does not mean anyone is ever going to click on it. At least not on purpose.

When the internet first started messing with media departments’ heads around 18 years ago, there was a theory that ads were going to get really good because only then would people voluntarily watch them. Consumers consistently vote with their clicking fingers to demonstrate their willingness to buy into this theory but it’s rather slow to catch on. This is because it’s really difficult for client organisations to countenance putting entertainment before their sales messages. And because it’s really difficult as a writer to better the extraordinary tales of reality that appear on our screen. As long as truth remains stranger than fiction, it seems that Michael Brian Scott and his ilk will continue to own the internet.

See the Vice article here.

Devo

David Walden, who sadly died recently, would have appreciated that story. Loud, gregarious and stuffed to the gunwales with bonhomie, Devo was everything that I’m not. Yet he was always keen to chat, listen with interest, then enthusiastically tell me where I was going wrong and how to put it right. He provoked, cajoled and encouraged those around him, catching them up in his wake as he sailed gleefully to his next engagement. He was a leading light of the industry and will be missed, which with his proud stature and booming voice will come as something of a novelty to him. He may only have had 66 years, but I reckon he got two year's worth into most of them. I very much doubt that you’ll rest in peace, Devo, but have fun wherever you are.

Paul Catmur is creative managing partner at Barnes Catmur & Friends. 

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