There is lots of talk by politicians from all sides of helping poorer people and making their lives better through ending zero hour contracts or reduced taxes, but anyone who has ever had a sick day or spent a weekday at home knows there are other problems that Westminster village types seem to ignore.
This problem is daytime TV and the adverts this crap serves up day after day, hour after hour. The type of people who will be watching from 9.30-4 every weekday will be generally poorer, less well educated, worse at managing their finances, older and more vulnerable than those who flick on the box come 7pm.
Take the Tour de France coverage on ITV4. During the live coverage from noon until 5pm the adverts are one long litany of targeting people for their money through fear and addiction and trying to persuade them to buy stuff that they don’t need, don’t want and can ill afford. 1,294%APR loan deals, death insurance, accident lawyers, gambling, bingo, junk food, booze are fired at the unsuspecting viewer over and over and over again.
This sort of stuff must work. A company isn’t going to spend thousands of pounds on producing and screening an advert if it doesn’t get traction with the audience and generate sales. You can hear the marketing people telling their clients that the easiest way to make a profit and shift units for their company is to aim it at these most vulnerable of groups – the ones who, through age, infirmity, financial or mental reasons – are unable to leave the house but can be by a phone or the internet to but whatever thing is being sold.
And it is so much cheaper to advertise to these people. For a 30 second ad during the day it will set you back six grand on ITV. In the evening it will cost you ten times that. So as a company that hits the poorest you get more bang for your buck. Your marketing can hit them over and over and over again in monotonous repetition until they cave in and spend their last few quid on something they have no need for. Take 118118 – a company who sell loans at up to 99.9%APR, directory inquiries at £6 a pop and who advertise repeatedly on daytime TV. Last year alone, this monolith managed to accrue £56 million in profits and you can sure as hell bet that they are not struggling to afford these daytime TV ads or that their main target audience who use their services are neither affluent, intelligent or time poor.
Many of the companies that advertise at these times are leaches sucking the lifeblood out of some of the most vulnerable members of society – exploiting fears and worry and dragging them into ever increasing bad habits and greater debt. This group is a hidden, invisible section of society that reaches into the millions but whose lifestyles will be an anathema to many, never seen in mainstream media and never understood by those in Westminster who never get to experience this societal underbelly.
In launching his latest leadership bid, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he wanted to tackle the five evils blighting society today ” inequality, neglect, prejudice, insecurity and discrimination.”. Meanwhile, his challenger, Owen Smith described in his opening gambit that he was “pro standing up for working people.” (whatever that means). Even Theresa May, now Prime Minister, described how she wanted her government to “be driven not by the interests of a privileged few, but by yours.”.
Yet, none of these leaders or wannabe leaders or political parties have done anything apart from to kick Wonga out of a market it once dominated but whose rivals have now replaced with equally eyewatering interest rates. But it isn’t just payday lenders. There are a multitude of awful greedy companies staffed by awful greedy people who don’t care who they make money out of so long as they make it. These should be the people and organisations who politicians go for but the sad truth they just aren’t sexy enough causes for the middle classes and the metrosexual elites who represent the rump of Labour and Conservative voters.
It would help tackle poverty, depression, debt and fear in those riddled most by those same ailments. It would show greedy bastards that there are better ways to make money and it might even make those who have least to be content with a a little bit happier. Now there is a thought.