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