I’ve been thinking, in my clunky and brow-furrowing way, about branding.
I was once at a meeting with a marketing man who was so sharp you could have used him to slice a pizza; his hair had been designed by award-winning architects and his glasses looked like they’d been worn by a professor in a black-and-white 1950s science-fiction film.
He leaned close to me in his minimalist office; suddenly the Biro in my top pocket felt like clutter. His breath smelled of fresh mints and fresh ideas. “You need to market yourself, Ian. You need to be a brand!
I felt acutely aware of my untidy grey hair and the stones in the turn-ups of my trousers, but I left his presence determined to think about branding. In fact I may even have written it down on my hand with my Biro.
And now I’ve thought about branding. And here’s my idea: Ian McMillan Action Figures. Yes, I know. An amazing concept, isn’t it? I could be the new Ken of Barbie and Ken fame.
I thought about the things I’m known for, and these include writing poems, writing articles, and writing scripts, so it stands to reason that one of action figures should be Ian the Writer, with detachable Biro and laptop features. You could even get a model of the little white writing table I’ve written about before, for the action figure to sit at.
I’m getting the hang of this branding business: not so hard, is it? I’m also known for the fact that, at any given photo-opportunity, I put my thumb up and do a comedy wink, so we could have a Thumbs-up/Comedy Wink Ian action figure with adjustable thumbs and swivelling neck.
I like going for a walk, so the Walking Ian comes complete with legs that move, because (and I’m no anatomist) I believe that moving legs help you to walk. The other movement I enjoy is a bit of the old Jazz Hands so the fourth action figure could be Jazz Hands Ian: you pull a string in the middle of the figure’s back and the hands waggle and a metallic voice a little bit like mine says “Jazz Hands, tha knows!”
And why stop with action figures? How about a set of Ian McMillan cards to collect and stick in an album depicting my illustrious life and times, from Card 1, Ian Falls Off The Wall in his Grandma’s Back Yard and Misses The First Day of Infant School to Card 658, Ian Raises His Thumb at a Camera. They’d sell like hot Yorkshire Puddings I reckon, and there would be a roaring trade in swaps in the school yard and in the back rooms of pubs.
Or how about an Ian McMillan board game? Get Ian from his house to the centre of Darfield in a snakes and ladders kind of way. He almost gets to the shops then realises he’s left his man-purse in the house: down the snake! Mr Smales sees him walking and gives him a lift: up the ladder! Somebody rings him and reminds him he’s supposed to be somewhere else so he has to rush home to get changed: down the snake! Mr Smales sees him walking and gives him a lift: up the ladder!
Branding. It’s easy. Where’s that Biro…?