Newsagents should be wary of Instagram…

Those of you who work in fashion will know how powerful Instagram has become as a tool for sales promotions. Of course they’re no longer called sales promotions – for some strange reason everything has been relabeled in the digital world. They now have new digi-names, like social activation event, or customer engagement experience, or content marketing lead magnet, blah, blah, blah.

So yesterday (Sunday morning), my bride and I went to quickly buy a birthday card and gift voucher for a 12 year old boy, before getting into the rest of the day. After getting the card at the newsagent, my bride went to buy the gift voucher at the surf shop, while I went across the mall to get some cash from the ATM. It was team work designed to get back home promptly.

Next door to the bank was a newly opened Tiger Lily store. My bride shouted to me “meet me in the Tiger Lily store – they’re having an opening event today, I saw it on Instagram“. I immediately sensed a trap. Why hadn’t we gone to the usual card shop where we get the funny birthday cards? Thoughts of Ole Lynggaard and Lee Mathews rushed through my mind.

Grabbing the cash from the ATM I ran into the store and straight to the manager. This very polite 20-something smiled beautifully and asked if she could help me – given my panicked state.

store maanger
Store manager with trusty assistant…

I said “this might sound strange, but could you possibly put a ‘sold out’ sign out the front or maybe close the doors with a ‘gone to lunch’ sign, just for a half hour? My bride knows about your promotion from Instagram and is on her way here soon – please help me?

The women shopping in the store smiled knowingly. The store manager just said “your bride must have impeccable taste“. I said “she does, she married me, but that’s beside the point“. I went to the front door to head off my bride. As she approached I exclaimed the store was sold out, so there was no need to enter. But she was having none of it – she was on a shopping mission and I was doomed.

So I sat on the husband/boyfriend couch at the front of the store and was soon accompanied by another poor bloke. I told him I came shopping for a 12 year old’s birthday card and asked him what he thought he was doing when he left home? He and his partner were dressed in lycra and fitness gear – he thought they were out for a healthy walk. “It explains why she packed her credit card, not a water bottle” he sighed.

“Instagram?” I asked – “Instagram” he nodded.

Husband couch
The husband/boyfriend couch…

My bride tried on a dress. All the women shoppers and the sales staff in the dressing rooms gushed at how wonderful she looked, as they turned their heads to me. It was obviously a conspiracy. What is the collective noun for women shopping in a pack? I dare not guess.

The store manager’s trusty assistant offered me a health drink – beetroot, carrot and some other juice. I suggested single malt would be more appropriate given the circumstances.

Suffice to say we finally left the store with a new dress, new hat (thrown in, given the value of the dress purchase) a free posy of flowers (as we were one of their first customers) and a health drink. And now we’re on their database.

Mal in shock
Still in shock I carry the new hat, posy and health drink – damn expensive birthday card…

It’s no wonder newsagents are struggling – from now on we’re buying birthday cards online. We’ll go broke otherwise…


  1. Hi Malcolm. Love your humour as well as your observations on marketing and life. Will be interesting to see what happens with Instagram advertising.

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