I blame Humpty Dumpty for getting me into marketing, and I only realised this about 6 months ago.
It all started when I was just a wide-eyed 8-year-old, bursting with creativity and a love for all things felt tip and Play-Doh. I can’t quite remember how, but I stumbled upon a colouring competition run by Boots, in my local town(the British retailer, not some random group old wellies that had clubbed together and decided to run a comp for kids). Being a kid who couldn't resist an opportunity to show off some skills, I put down the Play-Do and picked up my best felt-tip pens and got to work on colouring in, which happened to be an Easter scene, wild meadows, trees, rabbits, fawns and various other woodland creatures.
I spent what felt like days meticulously colouring the entire scene, paying attention not to go over the lines, from the vibrant hues of the leaves to the delicate shading on a bunny's ears. I poured my heart and soul into it, making sure that every colour was just right and every stroke was perfect (to an 8-year-old). I was on a mission to create a masterpiece that would impress and secure my place as the winner.
This was my chance to shine, to showcase my talent to the world, or at least to the local press and the photographer who would be present when the winner picked up the spoils. In my 8-year-old mind, I was already envisioning my moment of glory, imagining myself in the spotlight, the blinding flash of the camera(s) and the admiration of the colouring competition world.
Once I was satisfied with my colouring masterpiece, I eagerly submitted my entry and waited with bated breath for the results. Days turned into weeks, and the anticipation grew with each passing moment. I checked the mailbox religiously, hoping for that elusive letter or phone call that would confirm my victory. I couldn't contain my excitement, even dreaming about it, visualizing the moment when my name would be announced as the winner. I was Charlie trying to find that golden ticket - although my grandparents had their own homes and individual beds.
Then, one fateful day, the phone finally rang. I rushed to pick it up, my heart pounding with anticipation. It was Boots on the other end, and they had the news I had been waiting for – I had won! Play it cool Pete, I thought. I was overjoyed, elated, and thrilled beyond words. Although I knew I’d make it one day.
To be honest, I wasn't exactly sure what I had won. The person on the other end of the phone explained that I had won a prize and could collect it the following week. My imagination went into overdrive as I envisioned myself proudly clutching my prize, and basking in the glory of my victory.
However, fate had other plans in store for me.
Just when I thought my moment of triumph was within reach, disaster struck. I came down with chickenpox, and my dreams of collecting the prize in person were shattered. I was devastated, heartbroken, and filled with a sense of injustice. Why did chickenpox have to strike now?
I was quarantined at home, covered in calamine lotion, and unable to leave the house, let alone collect the prize. My disappointment was palpable, it was a cruel twist of fate, and I couldn't help but feel that it was the universe's way of showing me that every great artist has to go through struggles to get the best out of them. Thankfully, my ever-resourceful mother came to the rescue. She offered to collect the prize on my behalf, and I reluctantly agreed. But deep down, I couldn't shake off the feeling of disappointment and the nagging thoughts of what could have been.
As the day of the prize collection arrived, I watched from my bedroom window, peering through the curtains with a mix of envy and curiosity. I imagined the local press and the photographer capturing the moment, and I wondered what it would be like to see my name in the headlines and my picture in the newspaper (page 20 for the full story), I felt a pang of regret and a sense of missed opportunity - game over, revered artist career over.
A few hours later, my mum returned home with the prize. She handed me a beautifully wrapped package, and as I eagerly tore off the wrapping paper, my disappointment evaporated, replaced by the fear of one egg/man. It was a giant chocolate Easter egg, adorned with colourful decorations and a beaming Humpty Dumpty, front and centre. It was a chocolate masterpiece sent to torment my waking days. An acting reminder of what could have been.
My mum placed the Easter egg on the shelf in the living room, a reminder, to her, of my victory. Little did she know that this egg was a manifestation of bad memories, itchy bits and a bucket load of smelly cream.
The bullshit bit
I have to admit however, as I grew older I developed a keen interest in understanding how people think and behave, and how Marketing influences consumer perceptions and emotions. I realised that marketing was all about telling stories, creating experiences, and influencing consumer behaviour – much like the story I had crafted in my mind and above for you, about winning a colouring competition.
Looking back, I realised that my childhood experience of winning a colouring competition and not being able to collect the prize in person had sparked a curiosity in me, a curiosity to understand the art and science of marketing. It ignited a fire within me to learn how to create stories that capture the hearts and minds of consumers, just like the story I had fabricated in my head about being a star, an artist, or a celebrity.
As I glance at the still-intact Easter egg, sitting on the shelf 33 years later, with Humpty Dumpty's menacing smile still intact, I am reminded of the serendipitous chain of events that led me into the Marketing profession. It may have started with a colouring competition (or maybe it didn’t) and an uncollected prize culminating in the understanding that you need to enjoy the process, the winning and losing, the ups and the downs as much as the accolades and results.
I may jokingly blame Humpty Dumpty for getting me into Marketing and allowing me to write this bull-shit back story, but deep down he can still go a fu*k himself for being a reminder of the time and effort I put into colouring in, not to mention the felt tips I used up for what turned out to be more of a competition in not scratching yourself to death than it did winning an egg - but that’s what you get when focussing just on the prize and not the process, right?