An Idiot Abroad – By @alexbottner_

By Alex Bottner


An Idiot Abroad

I’ve lived in the UK for a bit now. I thought I had the culture down, but coming to SCA and picking apart why ads work, I’ve realised that there’s a few references I miss out on.

Moving from Canada to the UK didn’t feel like such a huge leap at first. Finding a flat in London was a nightmare (the places I’ve seen…), but there was no new language to learn.

But when Marc showed us the recent ad that Uncommon made for ITV, I understood its message about the importance of representation in TV, but I had no idea what ITV meant to people here. I had no idea that it was the first channel to air tv shows with diverse casts and classes. It may not be highbrow tv, but it showed perspectives that had never been shown on the BBC before.

Sometimes I worry that I’ll struggle with starting my career in UK advertising because I don’t have the same sentimental relationships to brands, tv shows and pop culture that people who have grown up here have.

I don’t have a go-to order at Nando’s…should I be worried?

When I tried to write an SMP for M&S food, I thought that I had uncovered a truth about the brand. I asked my classmates if they thought that M and S was like getting takeaway or a restaurant meal but from a grocery store. They laughed and said, “yeah, that’s what they want you to think, but that’s not really true.”

When me and my partner, Holly, were brainstorming executions for a political campaign, I suggested bumper stickers like it was a no-brainer. She gave me a puzzled look. Rosettes are the main thing here, so I’ve learned.

I also wonder if the opposite might happen. What if I move back to Canada and start coming up with ideas that would work really well for a UK audience, but that would be out of touch for Canadians?

I know that great advertising is universal. I don’t think I respond to ads any differently here than I would back home. The main difference in advertising here is that hockey has been swapped for football in sentimental sport ads.

At the end of the day, good work is good work. I still felt an emotional response to the ITV ad, even if I didn’t grow up watching ITV.

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