Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Explaining Eddie Stobart to North Americans

If ever there was a cultural phenomenon that illustrated two ends of one spectrum between North American and British culture, it has to be trucks.

In Canada and the USA, the archetypal connotation of what constitutes the average trucker is some middle-aged butch guy with a paunch, possibly a beard, baseball cap and reflective shades - sitting in a cab that he has "personalized" in his own special way with junk on the dashboard, lights on the outside and some burgee or other flag plastered across the bunk area, so that he can sit there in his checkered shirt and white tshirt and feel right at home.

In the UK, however, the archetypal trucker is the Eddie Stobart driver.  To explain what happened here, you have to go back to the origins where a certain Mr Stobart had a small fleet of trucks and these were done out in a nice professional livery, and the drivers themselves had to be dressed nicely too.  Shirts and ties being the order of the day - though these days the ties are gone.  

The trucks themselves all have female names - with very few exceptions ("Optimus Prime" comes to mind as one and one train is called "Eddie the Engine").  This lead to people collecting and recording what trucks they'd spotted and eventually a fan club was born.  The drivers will also pose with kids for photos of the kids in their tractor units, and they have to remain professional and courteous at all times.

These days, Eddie Stobart trucks are a big part of British popular culture.  For example, here's their CD in the shops right now.... and that's not the first time they've been musically linked to the pop charts, either (Look up "I want to be an Eddie Stobart Driver" if you really must).

In addition, you can buy toy trucks for your kids, or collector edition models such as these.

This also extends into the home - so if you really want, among other things - you can buy the duvet for your kids room.

And all of this came about due to three things:  Being personable, dependable and professional.  

So, the next time you see a "tough" local trucker jumping out of his truck, spitting phlegm, swearing, and complaining about the traffic, you will now hopefully understand why his employers can't sell you a pair of adult sized fluffy truck slippers to commemorate this.

What you should agree on, is that this is branding and advertising done very, very well.

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