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Word ASSOCIATION Football Brian Clough Parker Pen

Remember that game? First player says a word. Whoever’s on their left has to quickly say a word with a connection to the previous word. If somebody doesn’t like the connection, they challenge it and everyone votes on whether or not to allow it. You lose a life if you take more than three seconds to say a word or you repeat one that’s already been said or you’re challenged and lose the vote.

Anyway, friends and I used to play the game at the end of drunken evenings. We had our own name for it, which we thought hilarious.

‘Word Association Football Brian Clough Parker Pen.’

Anyone fancy a challenge?

Association Football is its full name, as opposed to Rugby Football.

Brian Clough used to be the most famous manager in English football. Derby County, Nottingham Forest and for 44 days, Leeds United.

And also the star of an old Parker pen commercial. Something about needing a pen for a new player to sign his contract. “A good ball pen for a good ball player”.

So if you did challenge, one life gone.

Associations are in with brands at the moment. It’s a pretty broad church.

They could be an asset - a logo, jingle, colour, font, tagline, character, celebrity, pack shape, advertising style.

Or a trigger - When? Where? With whom? With what? Why?

Or a positioning - For whom? To do what? In what way? For what benefit?

It’s either ‘see the brand and think that’ or ‘think that and see the brand’. Immediately, though. No hesitation or the brand loses.

One theory is all these associations become inter-connected to create some giant memory structure in your mind. A kind of brand palace.

But that sounds like a scientist talking. In practice, you need focus. You have to decide what matters most. More of a brand shed.

So back to Parker pens.

Using Brian Clough in advertising at the time was inspired. Sometimes nothing beats a big old dollop of fame.

And the idea was spot on. Clough - or Peter Taylor, his assistant, to be accurate - had a reputation as a discerner of undervalued talent.

But with Parker pens my mind goes to the pens. Steel caps, coloured barrels, long-lasting refills, that push-button click. Jotters, they’re called.

And the clip in the shape of the arrow. To be honest, I’ve never thought about what it meant. Precision?

But now I think of the clip, I see one in the inside pocket of my school jacket. A fountain pen.

I can also see two of the clips in my dad’s waistcoat pocket. Tom Brown Tailors on Princes Street, just off Saville Row. Always took his jacket off as soon as he got to the shop. He had two Jotters, blue and red.

I can even remember when he gave me my fountain pen one Christmas. A Parker 51, the one with a hooded nib, in a box with a sleeve. I used that pen for pretty much every exam I ever did. It was always there.

You never forget the feeling. That’s why they’re the best associations for brands to build.


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