Home > June 2015

June 2015

Tag, you’re it!

Sunday, June 28, 2015 0

Last time out I wrote about how my team shirt, adorned with sponsors really made me think for possibly the first time ever, about those brands that I freely advertise about my person whilst at the same time I pay top prices for the privilege.  This time around I want to write about a similar theme and the way that it makes me feel.

As we established the last time out, I’m a bit of an F1 fanatic, I’ve followed the sport from around 1996 and whilst I’ve always enjoyed the “sport” and the skill of a F1 pilot, driving with impressive accuracy lap after lap, there is another side of the sport that is probably more in your face than anything else; advertising and big business.  Sponsors pay millions for the opportunity to have their name plastered either on the cars, on the clothing and even around the track itself – and I can see why they do it, the worldwide TV coverage is unquestionably high and the perception around F1 is always about the “best of the best”, whether that be the latest in luxury yachts, exotic and powerful cars and even watches.

The prominent watch manufacturer throughout my time watching F1 has been Tag Heuer, they were the official sponsors for all of the F1 timing right up until only very recently, when they were replaced by Rolex, another name that conjures up accuracy to the second – but I’m starting to get off topic.  My want for a Tag watch has been deeply entered into my psyche – to join the elite of the world and wear the same, perfectly crafted, 10th of a second accuracy and eye-catching wrist accessory.

After 18 years and two times where I came extremely close, last year, shortly after I got married, as a gift to myself I got to finally join the perceived elite and buy my first Tag Heuer watch, a “Formula One” no less, with all of the beautifully made expertise you would expect from such a luxury item.  Before I proceed, I should point out that the watch I chose to buy was from their relatively cheaper offerings and also came with a rather attractive discounted price – but none the less, a magical timepiece that I cherish and often gaze at knowing that it is mine, paid by my honest and hard work

Throughout this last 9 months of owning this watch though, it hasn’t been quite as I thought it would be.  The watch brand that I coveted for so long has been worn maybe half a dozen times and for the rest of the time it lives inside of its box away from the eyes of the world; and the reason is because, like most people, I go to work Monday to Friday and at the weekends, spend my time in cinemas, at home or on the move in places where a Tag watch is not the kind of jewellery is called for.  Instead, I wear a Microsoft Band seven days a week, a device that cost a fraction of the price of the Tag and tells me, marginally a lot more about myself (ok, a lot more on physical level, but less so spiritually).

The Tag has not made me happy; it has fulfilled my dream of ownership, but the experience has left me a long way short.  In some respects I would have been better off giving the money way to charity and knowing that it had all gone to a good cause, rather into the hands of a luxury watch manufacturer, who had too much money to start with given their longstanding involvement in a sport as rich as F1.  Would I get rid of my Tag now?  No.  Do I regret buying it?  No, I do not, only earlier today did I walk past a Tag retailer with a large photo of Ayrton Senna on display to demonstrate the long history and associated passions their brand has with the F1 elite – and if spiritual Aryton, from the slums - of Brazil had no issue wearing such extravagant watches, then neither do I.  But would I buy another luxury watch – Tag or perhaps another brand?  Definitely not, these luxury watches are for looking at online and admiring from a manufacturing point of view, but they are not for purchase – by anyone, regardless of how much money they have, they ultimately do not provide any fulfilment or deep spiritual enjoyment.

Starting with the Man in the Mirror

Sunday, June 21, 2015 0

Today is Sunday and more significantly for me, its Grand Prix Sunday which means that I get to follow my passion, chill out and switch off the rest of the world for around three hours and watch Formula One and shout at the TV, willing my beloved Ferrari team towards some sort of victory (or in this period of Ferrari history, some sort of half-decent result).

This also means that I'm wearing my 2015, bright red, Ferrari polo shirt – complete with all of the sponsors that have paid vast amounts of money to appear on the famous red car. The annual season polo shirt is something that I treat myself to every year; I don't follow football so I justify the purchase of the £50+ polo shirt as a sort of compromise in comparison to those football fans who buy a replica shirt every year and attend a handful of matches throughout a season. The polo makes me feel connected to the team and that I'm able to display my passion and supports for the scarlet racers to the rest of the world.

There is a problem though – as much as I love wearing my team shirt, the sponsors on the shirt haven't paid me a penny. In fact it's the reverse, I've paid an extremely inflated price for a shirt with all of their logos splashed all over it and I wear it in public as if some sort of free advertisement. Today I also wore a "Twins" hoodie jacket, made by Nike with their logo proudly on display and a pair of Puma trainers with a bright yellow symbol of their leaping puma logo – I'm a walking advertisement for these brands and what do any of them mean to me? Actually, very little. I don't bank with Santander or send parcels by UPS, I don't put Shell fuel in my car, nor do I "just do it" with Nike….apart from the Ferrari logo (a car which I can only dream of driving, never mind owning), my clothing is all about these companies rather than about just wearing something to make me feel happy; and I paid, in some cases, quite a bit for the privilege.

The clothing makes me feel good, a connection with the team in the case of the polo or comfort in the case of the shoes, but neither really make me all that happy deep down. I know for example that if Ferrari switch their sponsorship deal from Santander to HSBC or RBS or one of the other many banks out there, I wouldn't give it a second thought that a different brand is adorning my shirt. Nor does it mean that I would switch my bank account (not that I bank with Santander currently either).

So, why, after over ten years of buying Ferrari polo shirts am I suddenly questioning the free choice that I have in purchasing and then wearing fortnight after fortnight a polo shirt that I don't particularly agree with? Putting aside that I'm a Ferrari fan and the t-shirt makes me feel connected to my team (after all, football club fans proudly wear their replica shirts with the same advertising across the chest without giving it even a second though), there is no other reason – and this has become a problem for me, as I don't think that my shirt really speaks for me.

Getting to the Point

There is a reason I'm starting to question what might be a non-issue for most people, but there has been an awakening in my life. I've recently purchased and read the book "Revolution" by Russell Brand. For those unfamiliar, the book is Russell's explanation of how he feels that the world is greatly misbalanced and his call for action for "revolution" that he doesn't necessarily want to lead, but wants to awaken within all of us and get us to all chose a better way. After reading the book I've become a follower of Russell's "The Trews" YouTube videos and also purchase and watched the accompanying documentary "The Emperor's New Clothes", largely focused on the 2008 bailouts of the banks.

In the book and the documentary, Russell points out that wealth is incorrectly distributed throughout the world; 1 percent of the population have a large proportion of all of the world's wealth – and the approach that the rich take is to simply accumulate more of this wealth for themselves, rather than having that wealth trickle down to those that need it most. They lobby governments to change or keep the rules skewed towards their own self-interests and keep them rich; rarely would any rich individual or company want to agree to something which would hurt their bottom lines or worse impact their shareholders. So, whilst the interests of shareholders are the top priority, those on the lowest pay grades are exploited, underappreciated and seemingly unable to change things – even at a Government level, the very people who should be looking out for "us", we the people.


Your probably thinking what this has to do with my choice of polo shirt – and rightly so. The connection is that Ferrari are big enough to put these sponsors onto their shirts and have millions of fans buy their polo shirts at a jacked up price based on the loyalty and passion of their fans. But, once again, putting my Ferrari following to one side, I stood in front of a mirror today and wondered why I have Santander emblazed on my chest; do I support Santander and their business practices?

What if it wasn't Santander? What if the sponsor was a less reputable firm – for example, a small loans company? A company that doesn't pay fair taxes? Or one that does not pay taxes in the country they doing business in at all? Would I still be happy to wear the Ferrari polo shirt?

The answer is probably still 'Yes. Yes I would', but that might not always be the case. I've been awoken by Mr Brand to start to look at the messages behind the news, who really profits and what I should be doing about it. As we've already established, whilst I'm not quite prepared to give up my Ferrari shirt, Microsoft products or Starbucks coffee – I'm already starting to think about what I would be willing to change for the better.

In my local town, there is a market every week and they sell the usual fresh fruit and veg – and I always think that it looks great and as someone who likes to cook, I'd like to buy local and support local business, but never do. Why not? I don't know, the convenience of the national supermarket perhaps, but it is a really simple change I can make – and if others were to make the same simple changes, perhaps we can start to help our local businesses again – the ones that don't have surplus money to spend sponsoring Formula 1 or Football teams whilst their employees are living on the poverty line.

As Michael Jackson once sang…."I'm going to make a change", and "I'm starting with the man in the mirror". I may not be ready for full scale revolution yet, but I'm becoming interested and whilst I know Russell Brand is not everyone's cup of tea and most wouldn't pick up a copy of anything he's written or stared in, but I urge you to read "Revolution" or watch "The Emperor's New Clothes" and start to ask yourself the exact same questions that I'm starting to ask myself.

It's been a long time since I last blogged; I've not made the time to sit down, write and do something that I actually quite enjoy doing. Part of this is down to not having anything to say and partly down to the fact that my previously writings were all based around technology. Whilst tech is a passion, I wanted my blogging to be something more that than and so I bored myself into making the time to do it. I hope that this post marks my return to more regular blogging and onto more wide ranging subjects.

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