Sometimes you see a bit of quick thinking to which you just have hold your hands up and applaud (maybe in the metaphorical sense, rather than literally). Such was the case when I saw this tactical ad, from Fortnum & Mason, and the response it’s generated:
I should say that I didn’t see this ad first hand – I only read about it today, so I’m admiring it retrospectively.
First off, if I had seen it I may well have spotted what I thought was a horrendous grammatical error for a large, well-known, quintessentially British brand (certainly one that I would expect to proofread things properly).
Fortnum & Mason are, indeed, the grocers who supply the Royal Family, so they should be calling themselves ‘the Queen’s grocer’, with the apostrophe denoting the possessive.
However in the ad, above, it says ‘the queens’ grocer’ indicating the plural possessive i.e Fortnum & Mason serve many queens.
Is this a monumental error? Nope – it’s a stroke of genius.
Yesterday, there was a Gay Pride march across London. This ad ran in the official programme for the event, so ‘queens’ is a cheeky reference to those on the march.
Not only that, but the ad contains the word ‘proud’, showing support for the event, but in a way that is seamless relevant to the ad itself.
I also think that, potentially, they’ve shown solidarity with an audience they wouldn’t usually target so directly.
I may be wrong on this, but I’d previously considered Fortnum & Mason to have quite traditional, conservative (in all senses) values: I wouldn’t have had them down as the first brand to support the Gay Pride march.
The ad was even picked up on by Stephen Fry, who tweeted about it – a tweet that reached his seven million followers, at no extra cost to the advertiser.
To my mind, as a tactical ad, it’s absolutely watertight. Well played Fortnum & Mason.