New and improved? 10



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I’ve decided I need a new image – a glossier, happier, nicer and friendlier image.

Yes, I modestly acknowledge that my reputation as a loving family man, loyal and devoted partner and upstanding member of the community is unblemished but, somehow, I feel that it could be, well, refreshed and updated. I want to be known for more than my honesty, decency, sense of justice and fair play, extraordinary and diverse talents, modesty and all-round wonderfulness.

So, I have turned to the advertising industry for a few tips. After all, the key function of advertising is to create desires and needs.

In 2008, the Global Vice President of Axe deodorant – sold here as Lynx – admitted that nobody wore deodorant in the UK prior to World War II and that it took advertising to “educate” consumers about acceptable body odour. “The sense of paranoia created the market,” he said. I don’t know about his product but at least his admission was refreshing.

Initially I thought that “new and improved” could be applied to my repackaged persona but that slogan has somewhat lost its punch. In fact, I think that “new and improved” is really an oxymoron – if something is “new” then it hasn’t existed before – and every aching, creaking joint reminds me that I most certainly have – so, therefore, it cannot be “improved” and vice-versa.

Why, only recently it was breathlessly announced, “Cricket Australia reveals a new and improved digital media strategy, separates content from corporate”. Whatever that means in English, while Her Majesty’s Commonwealth Government’s Intellectual Property site – IP Australia – is excited about its “new and improved patent search system”. I understand that the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (EDNA) (which sounds like a fun crowd) has a “new and improved test method” for what our American cousins call “adult diapers”. This news hit the media as a result of a leak.

Anyhow, our Edna is a Dame so we are well ahead of the Europeans.

I considered something like, “75 per cent better” but it begs the question: better than what? The obvious answer is better than the old me and, frankly, I don’t think that would be honest and that I am. You can’t improve on perfection, can you?

Perhaps I could market my offer of friendship – or, at least, acquaintanceship – as an “exclusive offer” or as a “premium opportunity for VIP A-Listers” or even as a “Limited Edition Opportunity” with folks urged to “Act now and save”. I have always liked the “The more you spend, the more you save” enticement and I wonder how many people have saved themselves into bankruptcy.

Nowadays, a good ploy is to include words like “green”, slogans like “for a better world”, “eco-friendly” and “no animals were harmed in the making of this product”. They appeal to the young and idealistic and older folks burdened with guilt about the carbon footprint they have left over six or seven decades. Of course the colour green is mandatory and nice snaps of trees, crashing waves on pristine beaches and lovely fluffy clouds help immeasurably on the packaging.

With just a little tweaking of the name of an existing do-gooder outfit in the environment game, I could create a whole new website called “Grenning Australia” – I bet a lot wouldn’t actually notice the difference.

I could sell my services, via this proposed website, to all sorts of organisations seeking acceptance and legitimacy in the brave new world. How is this for a couple of examples? “This clean, green industrial strength solvent is made fresh from newly excavated coal” or “Our factory produces less than 0.000000000001 per cent of global carbon emissions”.

I could go the niche market route to present myself as unique, ruggedly individual and very exclusive – rather like those loaves of bread in rough-hewn slabs packaged in brown paper bags using terms like “back to basics” and “original recipe”. I think I would draw the line at “stone ground” because it might give uncharitable people ideas.

I do admire those vast multi-national bakery conglomerates which churn out biscuits at the rate of several million a minute and then market them as “Aunty Mary’s Own Recipe” in packets that feature a sweet old lady handing out a plate of cookies to red-cheeked laughing kiddies in a rustic kitchen. The image is so wholesome and that certainly is me. My wholesomeness is right up there with my modesty.

And if you accept all of this you – yes, you – could be in the running for a lovely set of imported, high quality steak knives.


What would a “new and improved” version of you be like? Would you want to change yourself if you could? Tell us below.


Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. Lol! Yes, the new improved me would have a brand new,Eco friendly,silent,shiny,smooth V8 Engine, running on full optimism with no harmful emissions!

  2. I see an even shinier version of you Russell just sharing this. .. And as well as contributions I love Catherine’s notion of no harmful emissions. Here’s to a very shiny 2015!

  3. My favourite “improvement” is the “freshly cracked egg” that a certain fast food company advertises!

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