Not the blog I had vaguely intended to publish this week but I’m taking advantage of a serendipitous event that happened recently. It relates to the area of advertising, as in title, but only tangentially, so bear with me. If you had asked me how I wanted my retirement to work out before I retired then the prospect of making money from my writing in some way would have been right up there as an ambition. Doesn’t every writer want just this? After 18 months of retirement and the same in writing this blog, until this last week, I could safely say that this ambition had gone unrealised – big time. But now what has happened is that I received an email from somebody called Jonathan working for ‘The Link Project, 2015′, asking if ‘their clients’ could advertise on my site. I haven’t replied to it, first, because I assume it is a scam – an opinion confirmed by my sceptical IT guy – but it did raise some interesting issues above and beyond any scam concerns.
The issue it raised for me was, I suppose, what you could call, a moral one. Suppose somebody genuine wanted to advertise on my blog. Would I want adverts on my site if the request was from a real person or company? Would people think I had sold out to big and bad capitalism? Reading this, and this question, you have to bear in mind that I mostly hate adverts. I have written about the adverts on Classic FM, which I turn off with the remote control and similarly TV adverts which get turned off immediately. So not a fan. Set against this I have to confess that I have advertised this blog in a magazine called The Oldie about which I have written in the past. I wasn’t at all convinced that paying for the advert, bearing in mind of course that this is a free site, brought any great increase in readership. So I was unenthusiastic when they contacted me and asked me to repeat the exercise. However, I was persuaded mostly on the grounds that the advert could now say, quite truthfully, that more than 200 blogs were available on the site on the subject of retirement. And that’s where the trouble began – to cut a long story etc, they re-published the old advert not the new one I had been at some pains to create. I still couldn’t tell whether it had improved my readership and they want paying for publishing the advert they shouldn’t have. They haven’t been great so far in sorting this out and I remain unimpressed.
So if you did believe that advertising is the Devil’s work then you would say you’re only getting what you deserve. Famous advertising person David Ogivly, said ‘Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things,’ so I should be safe with The Summerhouse Years, nothing evil there. Actually if there were that might increase my readership. Think on, as they say in Yorkshire. Certainly allowing genuine adverts for items such as incontinence pants, Saga home insurance, dental adhesive, pacemakers, Viagra, might, in one way, be regarded as, if not outright evil, in poor taste at least. I suppose there are worse things you could promote – vote Tory – for instance but it would be a real effort on my part to imagine a list, however short of items or products that I would be happy to promote. Certain charities perhaps but then they’re probably not going to pay well I would think. Perhaps Gibson or Fender guitars, Hornby model railways, Land Rover Defenders, Wes Montgomery CDs, Timberland, Banana Republic or Eddie Bauer of 20 years or more ago, Mrs Summerhouse suggested Crunchy Nut cornflakes but she’s being facetious, I think. So if the executives of these, or other apparently noble products, reads this blog feel free to make me an offer I can’t refuse.
Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to the title of this blog, am I a good advert for retirement? Well I certainly wouldn’t make the Saga adverts for the silver fox look. There’s a distinct lack of silver or any other hair colour for that matter. Fit and lithe? Next? Financially secure and wisely invested? Keep going. I might make the ‘before’ photo in a ‘before and after’ toothpaste advert (see above). Actually, no don’t keep going, it’s becoming a little bit depressing. Let me end by examining the positive, not something we British like to do but just for a change. Here goes, I’m not terribly unfit, have a bit of money in the bank with prospects of more, doing some quite interesting things in retirement – grape growing, jazz workshops, blog writing – that sort of thing. Happily married with two marvellous children, now that really is going too far. One of them wants money for her wedding, the other has just arrived back from Australia and his very first words to his mother on the phone after 3 months away were – have you got any money to pay the taxi? Ah, how we laughed. He says he can’t wait to go back.
So much to be thankful for in retirement. Probably not a great advert but, if they ever took to advertising things on the basis of ‘not bad’ as opposed to ‘absolutely brilliant’, then I may be in with a chance of fronting some campaign or other. I do remember when I worked as a consultant to schools and they would ring me up and say can you do us some training on x, y or z, I would say no you don’t want me there are people far better to deliver that, it seemed to make them want me all the more. Reverse psychology I believe they call it, except it wasn’t that at all. But yes, me a good advert for retirement? Not really, OK, average, but no more than that.