Just Tell Me What You Are!

By Felix Taylor

So, about three days ago, this sign appeared in Windrush Square, Brixton. Unannounced and unaccompanied by any kind of real explanation. It’s like a red, circular version of one of the Monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey materialising as if from nowhere, towering high, with an unknown purpose.

The only difference being that instead of a tribe of apes jumping uncontrollably around it, or a bunch of astronauts feeling obliged to travel to Jupiter to find it’s origins, no one seems to care. Everyone has been walking straight past it, maybe some giving it the occasional stare. The strange silhouettes on
the front could allude to any kind of disturbing scene and the back simply has the number ‘28’ written in large letters. Is it a piece of obscure art? Maybe some kind of crazy private joke between Babybel cheese lovers? No. Apparently this is an advert.

Baby Bells are red and circular just like the Windrush Square Monolith. It seems to me like there are giant Baby Bells, on sale for 28 days in October in Brixton, that can somehow prevent child abuse. I’m confused.

I will say at this point that I no longer watch TV. Well, not in the ‘live signals straight to the set top box’ kind of way. I watch everything online, which means I don’t see a lot of TV adverts. The amount of time I spend on sites like Wired or Fast Company mean I do still catch the more
interesting TV ads that come out, but I did miss the ‘Stoptober’ TV spot. You know the one? A load of ex smokers/actors inflate and push a giant Baby Bell through Britain in order to stop people smoking for 28 days in October.

Explanation maybe? Please? Annoying teenagers giving out leaflets? A website address? Twitter? Nope. Nothing. Take thirty seconds to go on YouTube and watch the TV advert with the sound muted and ignore any of the text appearing at the bottom.

It looks like an advert for a new, improved, 28,000 times bigger Baby Bell! With voice over, it works. It doesn’t when a big red wheel invades the middle of Brixton with a picture on the front that could depict nearly anything. What I assume to be the mum doesn’t even have a fag in her hand! Stop what, child?! The only hope it has is if you have seen the TV ad and make a loose connection with a big red circle.

Wow, that’s a lot of effort to convey a pretty simple message like ‘Stop smoking mum’. I’m all for smart, funny, interesting, even abstract advertising, but first, and foremost, please, just tell me what you are.