Trendspotting #19

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The Independent Online
Gits return to Soho

If you've noticed a tired but happy look on the faces of Soho's restaurateurs, it may be explained by figures on advertising expenditure from the Advertising Association. Last year advertisers spent pounds 12bn on the press, TV, posters, radio, cinema and direct mail. The growth in spend was 9.2 per cent up on the year before, to the highest figure since the barnstorming days of the late Eighties. As it almost all flows through agencies on a neat 15 per cent commission it should give us a new generation of gits in trendy glasses with silly names.

Slim regard for the truth

The Advertising Standards Authority says that out of 30 million adverts published a year, 98 per cent of poster adverts comply with its code, 96 per cent of press adverts and 82 per cent of direct-mail shots. This is not good enough for the Consumers' Association, which has called for those who mislead the public to be fined and have to take ads out confessing their untruths. It says that 33 companies criticised by the ASA re-offended within 12 months. As everybody knows, all the truly untruthful advertising could probably be ended if the sellers of miracle slimming products were banned from advertising ...

The genius of Chisholm

Sam Chisholm, BSkyB's departing chief executive, may not be a genius of personal publicity, or even an expert at Murdoch family diplomacy, but what he has done to the fundamental economics of the television industry is awesome. In four years, ITV's share of commercial television revenue has fallen by 18 per cent, from 72 per cent in 1993 to 54 per cent last year, while cable and satellite revenues have risen from 16 per cent of the market to 33 per cent - pounds 1bn of a pounds 4.2bn market. The cause is the subscription revenues that ITV can't get its hands on and that Sky is pulling in hand over fist. Chisholm's genius was not just to realise that this market shift was coming, but to create it, by spending big to set up an increasingly valuable monopoly of sports rights and first-run movies. It may not be pretty, but it's lucrative.

It's bland, and it works

Sociologists know well that the workplace brings out the bland in people - strong regional accents are watered down subconsciously and temporarily at work, for instance. It turns out that the process of "negotiating towards the middle ground" works for the media, too. Radio stations that get most of their listeners in the workplace as opposed to at home are those that tread middle ground musically. Top of the index for workplace listeners is Virgin Radio; next comes that hotbed of youth rebellion Capital Gold, then GLR and Heart. All mellowed dinosaur rockers to a tee. Only Radio 1, which probably has listeners still waiting for Smashey and Nicey to come back, breaks the mould of the bland.