Friday, November 24, 2006

Coming to Terms With Your Inner Tosser

The new Conservative campaign aimed at young people's debt problems has certainly generated some heat on the net and in today's papers. The LibDems seems particularly upset about it. I suppose they feel they should have a monopoly on the word 'tosser'. Norfolk Blogger and Jonathan Wallace have all suddenly become a little holier than thou.

I looked at the Sort It website yesterday and at first found it all rather bemusing. I took the Tosser Test (I'll leave you to guess the result...) but couldn't quite work out why they had Alan Duncan on the front page!(just my little joke, Alan!). Some of the language baffled me, but then I am not 'down wiv da kids'. I wasn't too sure of the wisdom of insinuating that potential voters are tossers, but what do I know? This is the Press Association report...

David Cameron says the "Sort-It" campaign is an important step forward in tackling the subject of debt and said he hoped young people would see the controversial video that forms part of the initiative. The website contains advice on how to plan, budget and manage your finances. But a short film accompanying the website, entitled The Tosser Inside, has led to criticism from political rivals. The film shows a young man overwhelmed by his "inner tosser" into spending way beyond his means. Mr Cameron told BBC Breakfast the video was made by an advertising company which had "expertise" in reaching young people, and was only available on the internet. "The very fact we are talking about it now shows that it has had an impact. Yes, it is provocative, but don't we need to do something in our society about the problems of debt? Young people, I hope, will watch it and I hope it will make them think about debt." A Conservative Party spokesman said: "Personal debt is a significant problem in the UK and recent figures show that we have higher personal debt levels than any other Western European country. "As well as proposing policies to address this issue, we wanted to encourage British people to take control of their finances and not spend recklessly or beyond their means." LibDem Vince Cable said: "This is the kind of insensitive crass nonsense one might expect from a party led by rich young men, who have never had to balance a budget in their lives." David Buonaguidi, creative director of Karmarama - the advertising agency which created the film - said: "Every Christmas we toss away millions of pounds on things we don't really want or need. We wanted to confront people with this behaviour and help them realise that this kind of spending just isn't very smart. "The Tosser Inside is a wake-up call designed to appeal to an audience that usually screens out this sort of message."

What those of us over thirty have to remember is that this is not aimed at us. It's aimed at what David Davis last year called the iPod Generatioon - Insecure, Pressured, Overtaxed and Debt-ridden. So before we have a knee jerk reaction against the words used in this innovative campaign let's just remember who its target is.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good post Iain - I too struggle to understand the backlash to the 'sort it' website.

Cameron has been accused of 'dumbing down' the message - but this is a more sensible and strategic move than that.

The Party are trying to reach a teenage audience on the issue - and teenagers are notoriously hostile to advice. Indeed many teenagers see politicians as dangerously out of touch and certainly wouldn't take advice from them.

I think the website is aiming for the same success as websites like Talk to Frank which appear glossy and youthful yet still manage to address huge issues with the seriousness needed.

But overall I think that the real 'tossers' are the companies who exploit teenage insecurities.

Have a look at the comment on my blog if you will

:)

Andy D said...

'It's aimed at what David Davis last year called the iPod Generatioon - Insecure, Pressured, Overtaxed and Debt-ridden.'

I've one of those very people. And it's actually a very good site (just checked it out, and I might have a tosser inside me).

The 'buy it now' condition, is there. I see things which I want, and as I'm earning a good wage feel that I should get. It's only my common sense, or more likely my wife which stops me. I could rack up my credit cards etc so easily.

However I do manage to budget myself as to what i have, and plan for things which I know I'm going to have to pay in the future, (like car servicing, subscriptions etc). But I'm not naturally that way, and if I wasn't married, would probably be very different!

Cinnamon said...

1) My eyes are still bleeding from trying to look at the site. Owww.

2) It doesn't really address the problem of the banks that are lending irresponsible to people who will pay for buying junk on credit junk with their (and our) future.

Everyone who ends up being a debtslave costs society dearly.

newmania said...

There is somehting ghastly beyond belief about the elephantine attempts of the Conservative Party to be trendy . This was always doomed.
Its like your Aunty with a moustache trying to dance at a wedding . The use of what they think is "working class language" is reminisecent of the worst moment of the "coo lumme guv" British Film Industry .
Horrible .I wonder if whoever is responsible is someones friend from Eton. I gather they still go on out reach trips to meet "poor people".

If I was attacking thats what I`d suggest

Teri said...

What a great site. It's a brilliant marketing tool for tories and highlights the debt issues of youngsters and alike.

After all, we're all talking about the "inner tosser" which seems to have a lot of people buzzing about the site.

Job well done in my view. I wonder how the tosser at No 10 feels about it?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Gordon Brown Will be checking out this site, maybe he could take some advice to sort out the debt problems he has created for the country.

Anonymous said...

Iain, this mock outrage at the Lib Dems is all rather pathetic. What about all the Tories that are upset at the use of the word ? A Tory has posted to my blog about the use of thw rod in very unflattering terms whilst I notice that a number of other Tory blogs have similarly been a little less than happy and have used language similar to mine.

The rather sad attempt to claim that it is "getting in touch with the youth" rather highlights a sad desperation. If the Lib Dems had run such a campaign you would have been the first to attack it and I would not have defended it.

Come on Iain, your blog is usually far better than that !

Teri said...

Buster, just emailed Gordon Brown with the link to the site. I told him that self awareness of his inner tosser might help the country's debt problems. Not holding out for a reply.

Iain Dale said...

Nich, did you actually read my article before writing that? Did you miss the bit that said "I wasn't too sure of the wisdom of insinuating that potential voters are tossers, but what do I know?"

Iain

Matthew Dear said...

I cringed when I heard about it, but looking at it, it's excellent and does what it sets out to. V. well presented.

Oh, and LOL at your comment "perhaps they think they should have a monopoly on the word tosser!!!!"

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I don't whether to laugh or cry at these "outreach" efforts. The lib dem orange coloured tango Tosser on debt - whatever next?

Anonymous said...

BBC Breakfast actually bleeped the word out this morning. The Daily Mail was typically outraged whilst defining the word in full eye-watering detail and calling David Cameron a political tosser.

The advert isn't my bag, but it's not aimed at me. Where would the Mail be without a seething Frank Doberman article. (Harry Enfield - Oi, Cameron NO.)

Will said...

I'm firmly in the target demographic and remain thoroughly bemused at being labelled a tosser.

dynamite said...

Ditto.

Cobbett Rides Again! said...

An asinine, superficial and patronising initiative. People get into debt with which they can't cope for all sorts of reasons - usually associated with illness, marital breakdown and redundancy. Debt levels also tend to rise during the years of bringing up children when one partner's earning capacity is reduced at a time of high expenditure. The largest component in debt is mortgage debt which has been rising continuously due to ever increasing house prices driven by an artificial demand caused by planning regulations.
Economic growth is driven substantially by increasing consumer expenditure. If wages and productivity remain relatively static, this economic growth can only be driven by increasing levels of personal debt. Simple isn't it? As any move to remove green belt or rural housing development restriction is unlikely and ever increasing regulation and protectionism throttles industrial productivity expect to see debt levels continue their inexorable rise.

The Remittance Man said...

I may be over thirty, but through the mists of onrushing senile dementia and years of alcoholic excess, I do remember that if anyone claiming to be responsible had approached me in that style I'd have either punched him or laughed at him. I certainly wouldn't have voted for him.

Still, there is one glimmer of hope. Someone has at last realised that its the borrowers who are the key to solving the debt problem, not the lenders. Now all Dave has got to do is learn how to present the message without condescension.

As some tosser once said: "It's education, education, education"

Pascal said...

The reaction to the website is probably explained by the drip effect of the Tory party dumbing down and aping Labour under Cameron.

At one point people cannot take it anymore, realise that once more they chose the wrong leader, and what was contained anger just explodes.

Confused said...

I have finally managed to see this thing as somebody stuck it on YouTube (cannot get Flash to work in the office).

Bizarro is all I have to say. Vote Conservative for less freedom seems to be the subtext.

As somebody says above - clearly an idea conceived by someone who is so wealthy the only borrow for the Merchant Banks.

Cobbett Rides Again! said...

Just another thought. Reducing levels of personal debt is VERY BAD NEWS to the banks. Mr Cameron and friends had better watch out. Invitations to those tasty little non-exec banking directorships may NOT be winging their way upon retirement.

no longer anonymous said...

Oh dear, older people trying to be "cool" and talking down to the young as if they are morons. Somehow I don't see the target audience paying much attention.

Geraldine said...

Patronising, fascile, timewasting... What at load of rubbish! Which set of 'youngsters' is this actually aimed at? Teenagers? Students? Oooh dear the brave new environmentalists have used the word 'tosser' - big deal - does this mean they are now into teenager/student'speak'. I don't think so! It's positively embarrassing!
AND how many 'youngsters' are going to spend time answering ridiculous questions? ALSO - why does the 'tosser' have to be MALE - there are many female tossers.
Yuk!!

Valerie said...

It's a desperate site - not least because of the way the word 'Conservatives' is reduced to a tiny little line at the bottom.

The 'tosser' word is the least of its problems.

Kevin Davis said...

It's the Lib Dems who are the tossers!! What a bunch of hypocrites!

See this quote:

"This is the second year for the 'Don't Be A Tosser' Campaign.

Where does it come from?

The web site (a press release) of the Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland.

http://www.gregmulholland.org/wordpress/?p=49

Anonymous said...

Iain, it was your attack on "lib dems" for attacking it that I was aiming the comments at. I noted you were not overjoyed at the campaign personally.

verity said...

Dave should come to terms with his inner loser, and go.

Anonymous said...

"Gracious me Sinjun, we need to 'connect' with these 'yoof' creatures, so I'm told."

"Egad Ponsonby. Top hole! Get under their hoodies, what?"

"But how do we connect, dear boy??"

"Well, Ponsonby, if we want them to direct themselves to the Toss-pot Party, we'd better identify them as 'Tossers'?"

"Come again, Sinjun??"

"I'll come with you any time dear boy. Now what about that Polly Toyboy. . . . ."

Besides the pathetic foul language, the 'voice-over' is like something out of the fifties newsreels to National Servicemen promoting the useage of rubber goods. Patronising pap.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Davies,

You have missed the point, stop letting the 'inner tosser' inside you get out.

Im no fan of Greg Mulholland but he uses the word in a completley different context. That people should stop tossing their litter on the floor, i.e. dont be a tosser.

The tory website basically just implies that anyone with personal debt is a tosser. Ever so slightly patronising when its coming from a bloke who went to Eton and is 32nd in line to the throne. Thats what I find objectionable about it. I couldnt give a toss what words they use to get the message across.