WordPress – the publishing software used as the backend for this very website – is undergoing a few growing pains at the moment. Either that, or – depending on who you believe – it’s blowing itself apart, much as Movable Type managed to do back in 2004.
I’m not making any judgement on Gutenberg – at least, not yet. I’ll have a play with it when WordPress 5.0 is released, and see if I like it or not. If I do, great. If I don’t, I’ll go back to the classic Editor (available as a plugin), and think about my options. No, my issue is with how it’s being sold to us.
The editor is just the beginning
“This will make running your own blog a viable alternative again.”
— Adrian Zumbrunnen
Question: what do they think people have been doing with WordPress for years? Feeding the cat with it?
Gutenberg is a serious change to the very heart of the WordPress experience. This is a tricky proposition at the best of times: and it needs selling to people who already love using WordPress. WordPress’s answer to that? By quoting someone who says that using WordPress isn’t currently viable.
It’s literally one of the most tone-deaf pieces of advertising I have ever seen. People use WordPress because they love using WordPress. It’s one thing to tell someone what what they’re currently using is going to be improved. It’s quite another to tell your own users that what they’re currently using is shit, and not a viable choice.
Or, as one reply has it:
I'm pretty sure it's been viable for the last 15 years
It features a boy who struggles to find something in common with his dead father until he goes to McDonald’s.
A spokeswoman for McDonald’s said the British advert will be removed from all media this week and it will review its creative process to avoid a repeat.”
I don’t really want to get into whether the advert is offensive or not; there are plenty of places elsewhere where you can get into that kind of debate. I want to pull my usual trick and pick out one sentence in the story and talk about something entirely different instead.
Today, that sentence is the following:
“Due to the lead-times required by some broadcasters, the last advert will air on Wednesday 17 May.”
Welcome to a secret post. I mean, as secret as any post can get which is blatantly published on the front page of this site. But I won’t be linking to this on Twitter, and that’s where the majority of my hits come from these days. I want this to fly at least a little under the radar.
Back in 2013, mobile company Three produced a very silly advert. An advert which by all accounts should have irritated the hell out of me. A CGI moonwalking Shetland pony, painfully asking to go viral, with the slogan “Keep on internetting”? And yet… man, something about the ad just made me love it regardless. Maybe the choice of song, maybe the quality of the animation… or maybe the other slogan: “Silly stuff. It matters.” I almost want to nick that slogan for Dirty Feed.
I’m sure nobody reading this needs a rant about what a dreadful company Wonga is. You can get that better elsewhere, and it’s not my speciality.
I do feel moved to comment on one of the ads in their latest campaign, though. Our three heroes (Betty, Earl and Joyce) have recently gone CGI, and had a bit of a personality revamp; Betty in particular has gone from being a bit of a grouch to being sweet and lovely, thereby taking away the single interesting thing about her in previous campaigns. But I digress.
The big idea in this ad is that Earl is pretending to do a magic trick: the phrase NO HIDDEN CHARGES fails to disappear. As Joyce irritatingly points out, that’s supposed to be the point – that Wonga aren’t hiding anything to do with their charges. A fairly tedious idea for an ad, but I suppose it gets the job done.
Except that they can’t quite stop with the idea of a failed magic trick. They need to add a bit of extra visual pizazz. So in the last few seconds, despite the point of the advert being that Wonga don’t hide anything, Earl manages to create a hidden rabbit from his hat. At the exact point where Joyce is saying the selling point of Wonga is that “there are no surprises”.
Not only does it ruin the their message, it actually manages to put across the exact opposite of the intended idea. The ad is now saying that Wonga will tell you that they don’t intend to give you any hidden charges, right up until the last minute – and then will land you with a big surprise right at the very end. The exact idea about the company that the ad was supposed to counter.