Friday, 20 March 2015
I walk around Morecambe a lot. It's sort of an occupational hazard of living in Morecambe... Anyway, I was passing the William Hill betting shop on Regent Road one day [the one opposite the cobblers with the amusingly damaged sign] when I saw their 'responsible gambling campaign' unfurled in incredibly ostentatious fashion. In the front window there were about five posters, all the same, trying to warn against gambling beyond one's limits.
Sounds like a benevolent company, right? Sounds like they're putting the customers' health and general lives ahead of profit, right? I'm not so sure... Even a cursory look at the 'flags' of this campaign reveal a disingenuousness that I find distasteful. I think it represents a level of deviousness akin to the politician who kisses a baby one minute, only to close down the country's neo-natal wards next week.
You're probably asking what I'm going on about by now. Take a good look at the image above, then read on.
I think the yellow and black colouring is eye-catching, which would be a good thing if the rest of the poster was adequate, because then it would be drawing attention to the issue of over-gambling itself. I think the colour scheme resembles motoring warnings, in particular the ones with black arrows on a yellow background that signal where the bend in the road is. The problem with this, in the context of posters being placed in a window, is that attention is drawn towards the shop itself. It could very easily encourage people to go inside the shop and gamble, whereas if the posters were on the inside, then the people who they're supposed to target would feel the benefit of them more.
Now for my pearls of typographical relativism. What's the biggest word in the line? 'Fun', right? That's strange... surely a conscientious campaign, one that more concerned with health over profits, would emphasise the 'STOP' part of the message more. Think I'm being picky? How's about the fact that 'Fun' is also in a stylised font reminiscent of the bright, billion-bulbed signage of Las Vegas? The way they've chosen to represent the word invokes the reckless hedonism and glamour of one of the world's most popular, exotic [however cheesy...] and aggressively over-advertised parts of the world for gambling. I mean, you can't even spell 'gambling' without 'bling'... In comparison, the other words are dull and do not draw the eye as much. Essentially, the message says 'FUN IS KING/QUEEN, and... something about stopping something or whatever'. If you have an addiction, it's contentious whether any well-designed poster would help, but it's certainly clear that a better one may help. The ones they've got now just seems intent on plastering on the veneer of respectability, whilst actually, on an insidious level, enouraging more gambling.
For the record, I think there are a great many good intentions behind the tightening of gambling regulations. The Senet Group has introduced a few restrictions on advertisements and the 'Bad Betty' TV 'verts, as well as the aforementioned campaign. However, the group, described as 'independent', was set up by William Hill, Paddy Power, Coral and Ladbrokes. They're hiding this fact, by the way, but I don't quite get how the police can be independent when set up by criminals. I'm not saying the criminals are running the police, but... Well, I'll leave that sentence hanging.
Imagine the scene when even a well-meaning organisation brings in a new plan to encourage responsible gaming, at the potential cost of profit... Is it unreasonable to suggest that all the well-seasoned marketeers would use there expertise to 'tweak' those suggestions, turn the message, via subtle means, into one of 'fun' gaming, giving the company in question as much profit as they can hypnotise out of the public? I think not.
This post became too much about a wider picture of gambling, whereas I had originally intended only to focus on the typographical relativism of the advert. But there you go. It spiralled out of control; if only there was someone out there who cared enough to stop it...
If you think you may have a problem with gambling, please visit Gamble Aware - http://www.gambleaware.co.uk/