Skoda, nepotism, and cheese

From the hurly-burly of the media come three noteworthy stories.

Firstly, Skoda, purveyor of one-time jokes on four wheels. “What do you call a skip with a roof?” “A Skoda”. Over the past ten years they’ve made a remarkable three-point turn, becoming the badge of choice for cunning consumers who know they’re essentially getting a VW but for several grand less. It’s of particular interest to me because about fifteen years ago when I first wanted to be a copywriter I worked for free on an advertising brief from Saatchi and Saatchi to reposition the brand. My fumbling attempts were laughable: one involved showing a rusty bucket next to a shiny Skoda with the line “Which would you rather have?” Cue guffawing aplenty and I became a technical author instead. Ho hum. But Skoda’s success shows how canny marketing and joined-up business sense can successfully realise a strategic objective and rehabilitate a damaged brand. Very much like myself who can now look in the mirror, stand erect and say every morning “I am a copywriter.”

Which leads me nicely to writers. On the Radio 4 Today programme yesterday morning, just before I plunged into the darkness that is the Underground, I heard the preamble to the next item which was to discuss whether children of famous writers benefit from being, well, children of famous writers. And, in a wonderful möbius loop of publicity, who was going to discuss this but Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill. Apparently he’s been writing for ten years without telling anyone he’s Stephen King’s son, which is nice, but it still remains deliciously ironic that of course they benefit because they get invited to talk about it on broadcast media. A rose by any other name would have nowhere near as much PR potential. Just think, if my dad hadn’t been a logistics consultant I could have written The Great 21st Century British Novel. I’d imagine Christopher Tolkien benefitted from his father’s input to Lord of the Rings. Likewise Peter Amis probably got a lift from being his father’s son. Hmmm.

Which segues nicely to cheese. Today on Today, CheddarVision. Yes, CheddarVision. You can log on to a webcam and see cheese maturing. They’ve had half a million hits. HALF A MILLION. Let’s think about the ROI for second. Cost of buying webcam and URL, probably less than thirty quid. Cost of exposure to half a million ‘cheese geeks’ as James Naughtie termed them? Incalculable. It’s a brilliant, brilliant PR move. This isn’t just cheese, it is now Famous Cheese, and everyone will want a bite. They’ll do for West Country Farmhouse Cheesemakers what Wallace and Gromit did for Wensleydale. The only off-note in this bouquet of creamy goodness is that I’ve looked good and hard and as far as I can tell it’s actually a static image, part of a Flash movie in fact. If this is so and it’s not ‘real’ then part of me thinks it’s foolish in the extreme because they could end up with, well, egg on their faces. But everyone at the agency today was looking at it to try and figure out whether or not it’s genuine and a rather tasty email thread ensued with fantastic cheese-related puns. Apparently you need to tune in at 10am every day to see it being turned. This could be Proof. So, it’s a 10am appointment on the internet for me tomorrow, hats off to Isotope Communications, and let them be edamned if it backfires. Gouda on them. They’ll brie laughing all the way to the bank.

3 thoughts on “Skoda, nepotism, and cheese

  1. Hi Brendan,

    Know it’s a bit late in the day to be commenting! – just came across your post.

    Just thought you’d like to know that the cheese wasn’t a hoax. The Flash movie is about load distribution and control…

    A single server collects the image every second from the camera and distributes it to a number of other servers… the server also employs some motion-detection to look for changes in the image…

    The Flash players collect a small text file constantly (every second or two) which contains a ‘framerate’… that framerate controls how frequently the flash should collect the image.

    Therefore, most of the time all the flash players are only updating a couple of times a minute but when someone does something in front of the cameras all flash players pick up the framerate almost immediately.

    This can cause some _serious_ load spikes as you can imagine! – we learned a lot about load-balancing!!

    The framerate measurement also controls the archive-rate. We’ve been saving a picture every minute or so but when motion is detected we start saving constantly.

    That way we’ve managed to create a full 1-year timelapse of the cheese with all the interesting bits in detail and without running out of hard-disc space!

    You can see the time-lapses on You Tube. This is the full 12 months:

    All the best,


  2. Pingback: The Greatest Viral Ever - and other assorted examples « Brendan Cooper, your Friendly Digital Social Media PR, ummm, Thingy

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