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Creativity and Bic: some thoughts

A lot of brands on social media are like awkward guests at a finger lunch, making small talk because they feel they have to. And one of the things they all feel they have to talk about it public holidays. So, on Women’s Day, every brand on social media trots out a post. Most of them use stock imagery, plonk a quote next to it, and there you go. That’s all Bic did, and if everything had gone to plan, nobody would have paid any attention to it.

Bic post and reaction

The mistake that Bic made was to choose a quote that was bound to offend many women, and now their South African office is world famous for being insensitive. Into my collection of PowerPoint case studies it goes.

(I didn’t worry too much about the post itself. I was somewhat amused by the outrage, because there are more important things in this life than social media posts from brands that get ignored unless they offend someone.)

Creativity in social media requires endless stores of inspiration, commitment and willingness to fight for an idea. I’ve written content grids for clients. Sometimes you’ll come up with a radical idea and they won’t approve it. (I came up with a very different concept for one of our clients for this Women’s Day – he decided not to go for it for various (sensible) reasons. But the thought was there.)

I gave some thought to what I would have done with a brand like Bic for an event like Women’s Day. I grew up using Bic pens at school, and as a writer that is hugely meaningful to me.

The way we express ourselves changes as we grow older and, hopefully, wiser. So I came up with this idea:

Bic post idea Sarah BrittenHere’s another post, inspired by my own life. (Imagine if Bic got women to do versions for themselves, and then donated a hamper of products on their behalf to a school that needed stationery.)

Sarah BicI wrote all of this by hand, with a Bic pen. It didn’t cost much except time and some thought.

Two things that could do with a little more investment from the brands we work for, and – yes – those of us who produce work for them.


Things I miss about being 8 years old

I miss being 8 years old.


I miss being thrilled by the pictures of Arctic Cove and Sweet Wonder in the Rothman’s Durban July supplement.

I miss waiting for photos to come out, and the way my mother peeled back the cellophane in the albums to stick them down.

I miss Sunday lunch and newspapers and the thwack of tennis balls during the Wimbledon Final on my grandparents’ colour TV.

I miss the murmur of grownups talking about things I didn’t care about.

I miss Sol Kerzner and Annelien Kriel.

I miss the sticky sound of pages in a new set of World Book Encyclopedias, and how enchanted I was by the knowledge inside.

I miss making sand castles on the beach and not knowing about skin cancer.

I miss liking Ronald Reagan and thinking he was a nice sort of uncle.

I miss feeling important when I put on my dark blue cassock and white surplice to sing at the 10 o’clock service at St Michael’s.

I miss licking out the cake batter when my mother made birthday cakes.

I miss the delirious, delicious joy of Smarties and cupcakes.

Me 2

I miss Maya the Bee.

I miss the Marmite ad.

I miss Knight Rider and Kitt’s voice. I loved Kitt’s voice.

I miss loving Black Beauty more than any other book I had read.

I miss thinking farts were the funniest thing ever.

I miss not knowing about the F-word, though I got into trouble at school for using the word “bloody”.

I miss not caring what I looked like.

I miss not knowing whether I was fat or thin.

I miss not knowing that I wasn’t pretty, though that isn’t true because I knew I wasn’t pretty when I was six years old, and I will never forget that.

I miss not having a clue about boobs or boys or sex.

Me 3

I miss wanting to be a ballerina.

I miss practising Bach 2 part inventions and thinking I could be a pianist.

I miss drawing pictures of girls riding horses and wishing that one day, one day that would be me.

I miss my Sindy doll and my First Love and my electric Blue Train set.

I miss Pick Up Sticks and making model planes with Tinker Toy.

I miss thinking 50 cents was a fortune, because you could buy a Lunch Bar and a packet of chips from the tuckshop, with money left over for Chappies.

I miss not knowing about designer clothes and thinking anything from OK Bazaars was fine.

I miss not knowing that a BMW was better than my mother’s blue Ford Escort.

I miss not thinking that my mother’s baby blue Ford Escort was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

I miss not knowing that so much was wrong in the world, that there were 8 year olds who knew nothing of innocence, though I probably shouldn’t admit that.

I miss not knowing the meaning of the word “rape”. For years I thought it meant stabbing a woman with a knife.

I miss knowing about Adam and Eve and being fascinated by dinosaurs and being able to believe both of these things at the same time without any difficulty at all.

I miss myself before I turned nine, and got sad.

I miss believing in God.

I miss Mrs Houghton, the first teacher I loved.

I miss thinking that my grandfather could broadcast his home videos on SABC because that was the way the world worked.

I miss wanting to taste a Wagon Wheel more than anything else in the world.

I miss not knowing that there was music I was supposed to like.

I miss not knowing that bread was bad.

I miss thinking that icecream and jelly was the single most amazing thing in the world, followed closely by peach slices and Ultramel.

I miss getting to eat the Pope’s nose.

I miss thinking my parents knew everything.

I miss believing that everything would just happen, because it always did.