Saturday, 10 November 2007


I've got a confession to make. I take TV adverts far too seriously (for reference, see my earlier post on Vinny Jones).

Some TV ads are designed to make you laugh - e.g. the Peter Kay John Smiths Bitter 'No Nonsense' ones. Others are designed to get people talking - e.g. WTF does a gorilla drumming along to Phil Collins, have to do with a poxy bar of chocolate?! Some are spectacular and clever; for example I really like the Honda choir advert (although one guy I work with called it "a pile of pretentious wank").

On the other hand, some adverts are bloody awful, mainly because they don't fall into any of the above categories. Two ads immediately spring to of them deserves a post all of its own (Picture Loans), so I'll save that one for later.

The one ad I do dislike is for Optical Express. You know the one, it's for the laser eye surgery people, with 95 year old men skiing down mountains, a bloke helping his son learn to ride a bike, a happy elderly couple being able to see flowers & trees for the first time in their lives. On the face of it, it's a fairly inoffensive piece of advertising.

No. It's fluffy nonsense, and the part of the advert that annoys me every time I see it is the clip of that Chinese bird playing tennis and seemingly returning a winner across the court.

It's bollocks. This is a woman who has never picked up a tennis racket before in her life. Clearly, she's only pretending to strike a ball - because there sure as hell isn't a ball in view. Then you see her give a smug, clenched fist "Yes!" when her shot supposedly beats her non existent opponent. All I am asking for is a little bit of realism in ads. Bearing in mind the slow-mo speed of the clip, there is no way that in the time between her hitting the ball, and her jubilant celebration, that the ball would have travelled further than the net. Perhaps she doesn't realise the rules... "Yes, I've scored a goal! Back of the net!!"

Who knows, one day I might consider laser eye corrective surgery, I've heard some positive things about it. But I'm more likely to spend my money with a company that doesn't waste their money on glib TV advertising, that treats it's potential customers like Muppets.

Give me the John Smiths style of advertising any day of the week. Peter Kay, throwing a pair of specs in the bin saying "Laser eye surgery - for 400 quid, helps you see better. Have it!" No nonsense!

Sunday, 4 November 2007


It's a big period of change at the moment for my football team Queens Park Rangers. From being London's top placed club in the Premiership in the early 90's, their fall from grace has been spectacular......two relegation's, administration, near liquidation, boardroom coups, an FA Cup defeat to Vauxhall Motors....the list goes on and on.

Last season, John Gregory performed a minor miracle by keeping up a team that had looked doomed earlier in the year. Sadly, the new season started off badly, both on and off the pitch. Teenage striker Ray Jones was tragically killed in a car accident, the team hit a vein of poor form, and rumours abounded that QPR were facing administration again, or worse.

Then along came a Flavio Briatore & Bernie Ecclestone. The F1 guys, both very successful businessmen, were persuaded by QPR Chairman Gianni Paladini to invest some money in the club. The takeover is pretty much signed sealed and delivered, with a crippling debt seemingly wiped out and a big wedge of £$£$£ to spend on some decent players.

John Gregory & Mick Harford have been the fall guys in this, the former for some bizarre team selections that threatened to undo all his good work from last year; the latter who was let go despite an impressive run whilst he was Caretaker Manager. Really, they never had a chance. As soon as the takeover went through, Flavio was always going to install his own people, with a new way of doing things.

And so the QPR revolution goes on, with Franco Ceravolo (formerly chief scout of Juventus) working in tandem with a new First Team Coach, Luigi de Canio & a team of mainly Italian coaches.

Naturally, a lot of QPR fans have viewed all these changes with an air of scepticism. We've been here before, when Chrysalis boss Chris Wright took over in the mid 1990's, ploughed £millions into getting QPR back into the top flight, failed, and left the club in a far worse state than when he arrived. I don't doubt his good intentions when he arrived; but he showed that throwing money at something without a sound business plan doesn't work. For me, I have a lot more faith in the new board - Briatore & Ecclestone have been a proven success in whatever venture they've undertaken. Until recently I was bricking it about QPR's chances of being able to exist - last season when we lost to Luton in an FA Cup 3rd round replay I felt like crying - not just because of losing the game, but of the significant TV revenue we had missed out on (BBC had selected the subsequent 4th round tie for live coverage). Now, even when we were bottom of the table a few weeks ago, I wasn't too concerned as I knew that better times are on the horizon.

Fast-forward to yesterday's home game vs Hull City. De Canio's first game, and a bit of a step into the unknown for Rangers. How would the players react? Would he be able to communicate effectively with players, with him just beginning to learn English? What style of football would we play? Would there be a culture clash of stylish Italian swagger vs gritty English championship football?

So far, so good. Out went functional central midfielder Adam Bolder (who to be fair was a rock last season) and in came the classy Hungarian Akos Buzsaky. After a tentative start, we went on to play a patient, probing, passing game, and in the second half it was as the fans sang "just like watching Brazil", or should that be Italy? QPR played some of the best football seen at Loftus Road for a while. It was so good that at one stage I felt like knocking one out at the side of the pitch, but the over zealous stewards stopped me from desecrating the pitch. Two classy goals, then at 2-0 we shut up shop, getting the job done in a professional way.

It's easy to get carried away as a football fan. I may look back at this post in a few months & wonder what the hell I was thinking. But every long journey starts with a single step, and I have encouraged with what I have seen so far. Right now the future is looking bright for QPR.

Buona fortuna, Luigi.