'I love Head & Shoulders. I won’t buy or use anything else. It’s a Lovemark of mine.' By his own admission, the man who wrote this touching tribute to dandruff shampoo has very little hair. He believes, like the Beatles, that ‘All You Need is Love’. He also wants us to know that he has homes in New York, St. Tropez and Auckland. His name is Kevin Roberts and he is CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi
...Now Roberts has written a book in which he expounds this not very hard to grasp idea at wearying length. Lovemarks (powerHouse books) is by turns wince-makingly sentimental, infuriatingly self-satisfied and intolerably patronising. Its design suggests that it might be aimed at six-year-olds.
...It’s not enough that business enjoys unwarranted levels of power and influence and bestows vast rewards on the lucky few, while deluging us with idiotic propaganda. It now seeks to present itself as some kind of well meaning global saviour, even as it tries to annex just about every worthwhile aspect of life – mystery, sensuality, intimacy, love – for commercial purposes. ‘At Saatchi & Saatchi,’ Roberts reports, ‘our pursuit of Love and what it could mean for business has been focused and intense.’ If that sentence doesn’t make you feel even a little bit queasy, then they have got to you already.
The more I think about Lovemarks, the more I dislike it.
Like me, you probably get those dodgy emails from supposed relatives of deposed African dictators offering you millions of dollars for a bit of dubious account shifting. The con is that you get stung for all sorts of processing fees and the money never shows up (the so-called 419 Scam). Well, apparently, the one-in-a-bazillion guy who falls for the scam loses quite a bit of money. And then what happens is the conmen contact him again, in the guise of policemen who will help him recover his money... they just need some help with admin fees.... So he gets taken all over again.
Well, that's pretty much what Saatchis are up to with this Lovemarks racket. They're saying, oh, isn't it dreadful all that dishonest unloving advertising of the past. Oh dear, we're just as appalled as you are, honest. But now we believe in Love. So you can trust us now!
Roberts himself comes across as a raving egomaniac. Quite apart from the Lovemarks website, he has his own temple, Saatchikevin. Here's a snippet of it. Personally, I can't read this without hearing it in my head with a very pretentious accent.
Great brands infiltrate your life and your identity. It's that life-long love affair thing again. That's why I still shave with a Gillette Sensor and will fight anyone for the last Steinlager in the fridge.
I have never believed that extraordinary results come from ordinary actions so I am attracted by extremes. I demonstrated the point when my Canadian Pepsi Team blew away Coke to become number one in the market. We celebrated by machine-gunning a Coke vending machine on stage at a conference. Risky? Yes. Stupid? Possibly. Memorable, inspiring? You bet.
And take a look at this picture of our Kevin. Pretentious? Lui?
This is not love, it is delusion. Self-delusion.
And yet thousands of people are going out and buying this book, in many different languages. It makes me want to weep.