And so, dear readers, to life down on the farm, where, as everyone knows, all is not well due to a mass shortage of fruit and veg pickers. The perfect storm of Brexit and Covid has meant that this year they can’t bring in thousands of Eastern Europeans to live in caravans, work long hours, get terrible pay and be forced to stay on the farm for weeks at a time.
No, this year UK farmers need 70,000 UK workers to get down on their hands and knees for Britain.
Enter Waitrose & Partners (where fruit and veg is out of reach of anyone on the minimum wage) and ITV (which of course is going to make a TV show about it all), who have joined forces for a new ad campaign by Adam & Eve/DDB.
Designed to get lockdown weary Brits to sign up for the Government’s Pick for Britain initiative, it even includes a blink-and-you-miss-it website address (well, they don’t want an ugly response mechanism to get in the way of all that arty black-and-white stock footage).
It also features a Trainspotting-style “Choose Life” narration of: “Pick getting out of the house. Pick rain. Pick shine. Pick fruit and veg. Pick tired limbs and aching muscles. Pick early mornings and bleary eyes. Pick a hard day’s graft. Pick the sun on your back and the dirt under your nails. Pick putting money in your pocket.
“Pick putting food on your plate. Pick putting food on other people’s plates. Pick rising to a challenge. Pick being a key worker. Pick being part of something bigger. Pick for Britain.”
Nothing to do with Trainspotting, says Waitrose: “It’s our campaign and the repetition of the word ‘pick’ is to draw attention to the Pick for Britain campaign.”
Whatever. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ad has caused a bit of a stink – Prince Charles’ assertion that furloughed workers should sign up hasn’t help much either – and Trainspotting author Irvin Welsh is also none too chuffed.
Welsh tweeted: “Pick #brexit Pick being conned by inbred toffs telling you immigrants now trying to save you were f**king up your life. Pick exploitative slave labour wages… pick all the shite you didn’t read on the side of a bus. Or don’t. It’s picked for you.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office? Will we be inspired by Waitrose and ITV to sign up for the “Land Army” and to do our bit for Britain in its hour of need?
Er, possibly not. This campaign might try its best to evoke the 1940s war effort but the truth is that today’s workers will have to endure not dissimilar conditions to those of 80 years ago. According to one farming group, the business model of using migrant labour has been structured around a non-UK workforce for many years because British workers had shunned the work.
But you have to ask yourself why? Being forced to live in caravans, and work long hours for terrible pay might just have something to do with it? Waitrose and ITV staff certainly wouldn’t put up with that, so isn’t it about time farmers made agricultural work more attractive?
Decision Marketing Adometer: A back-breaking 5 out of 10