Monday, 5 December 2011

Steve Earl's Football Programmes

Since I first bought a copy of Shoot! for 42p (a price rise of 2 pence on the previous week’s issue I found out later...scandalous!), I have always been drawn to the adverts section near the back of football magazines. The promise of football-related goodies, often in full colour, tempting me all these years. 

Looking back on 25 years' worth of ads, it’s funny how some things have changed and others not. The ads aimed at kids have changed dramatically, moving with the times, as one would expect. Pastel shaded drawings of rosy faced children in England pyjamas (the ad was for football pyjamas, I'd like to point out) replaced with the headache inducing ‘LOOK AT MY AWESOME STUFF IT’S SO AWESOME AAAAAAAARGH!!!!!’ style adverts prevalent in today’s brain mush kids’ football rags.

Adverts aimed at the older end of the age spectrum have changed little; their sober, informative format giving the consumer just what they want – information about what the product is, what it does, how you can obtain it and, in the ‘olden’ days, the standard line about allowing 28 days for delivery.

One specific advert that never seems to have changed is the one that always caught my eye as a lad and still does now.  That of Steve Earl’s Football Programmes.

Advert from Shoot!, July 1986

When Saturday Comes, January 2012

The same goofy, child-bearing-hipped football fan – arm still raised aloft, still giving that curious thumbs up, possibly referring to the FREE programmes (NB: in these hard economic times, this is now just a free programme catalogue) the ad’s strapline has always carried and still clutching a handful of programmes. This figure has been invading my conscious mind for over 21 years and yet, despite this apparently excellent marketing device, the crucial piece of info missing from my memory when I came to research this was... who the hell is this advert for? For as much as I could remember the cartoon, that it was for football programmes and that it offered FREE programmes, I had no idea who was selling / giving them away.

In truth this is probably down to me not really being into football programmes, so I never felt the need to read past the first few lines. I did consider sending off for some free ones back in the day, the offer of free things by post having a very strong allure to a child whose only real post up until that point had been the limited edition Star Wars figures (send 3 names / proof of purchases from the backing cards).

Upon further research (reading my old copies of Shoot! after a trip to the garage), I discovered it was for the aforementioned Steve Earl.  I also discovered, to my disappointment and mild horror as it almost torpedoed the whole angle of this post, that in the copies of Shoot! from 1990, the advert had shrunk to only a few lines and more importantly, Mr GoofyProgrammeMan wasn’t there!!!  Rising costs and an imminent recession obviously took their toll and poor old GPM was laid off. It also now cost a whopping 50p, albeit in unused stamps, to obtain the desired free, sorry, FREE programmes. 

1990 - FREE Football Programmes still available, but no Goofy Programme Man?

Thankfully, despite worldwide economic meltdown, Steve seems to have fully embraced the value of solid branding and restored good ol' Goofy to his rightful place...just to the left of the title.

One more thing I love about this advert is that, through all the years, the font may have changed, GPM may have taken a sabbatical, colour may have arrived, but one thing that has remained constant is the address.  Broad Street, Bungay, Suffolk NR35 1AH.  I can just picture it now...actually, with Google Maps and street view I can do just here it is...

The Promised Land!

Steve Earl's Football Programmes, I may never have sent off for your enticing offer, but you have been a steady rock in my turbulent life for two and a half decades and for that, I salute you!

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