DIARY: Norfolk folk choose not to take a broad view of the yokel image

The denizens of Norfolk have been nettled by Mercury Communications’ new marketing campaign.

The denizens of Norfolk have been nettled by Mercury Communications’ new

marketing campaign.



Feelings ran high when one of the company’s new cartoon-based ads

featured a chap called Randall who dubbed his Norwich customers

‘cretins’ when they resisted his sales techniques.



The good folk of the county, already upset by a recent nationwide pasta

sauce and mustard campaign featuring a yokel with his own ‘smucklin’

Norfolk dialect, sensed a further slight to their good name. BBC Radio

Norfolk’s switchboard was jammed with complaints.



Enter, a few days later, Mercury marketing services manager Dominic

Owens, gamely on air to face the backlash. Against DJ claims that

Mercury was ‘defaming’ Norfolk by presenting it as a ‘carrot-crunching

Hicksville’, Owens assured listeners that it had been a terrible mistake

and that, in fact, the salesman was actually named after his own recent

predecessor, Peter Randall, who, as it happened, came from Norwich.



Safely ensconced in Holborn, Owens tells me he was astounded when he had

the warning call from BBC Norfolk. He says: ‘It never occurred to us

that we might offend anybody. After explaining that it was the

characters who were the cretins, not the people of Norfolk, I think

everyone was happy.’



Maybe so, but people have ended up on the bottom of the Broads for less.



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