Monthly Archives: May 2012

STRATEGISTS v FIDDLERS

 

Some time ago, I was going over some work with a planner.
We were due to present a campaign to the client.
We’d agreed the line and the device for the campaign.
I was showing the planner and account man the executions.
The planner said “You’ve done the device as a photograph. I preferred it as a drawing.”
I said “It’s the same device.”
She said “I know, but I think the drawing is somehow nicer.”
I said “Well, in the context of where the advertising has to run, we think the photograph will be more powerful.”
She said “No, I still like the drawing better.”
I said “This execution will stand out more from its environment.”
She said “Sorry, I think the drawing is nicer.”

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WHAT’S THE STORY?

Recently, a young creative guy wanted to interview me.
He started off by saying that advertising nowadays should all be about story telling.
I said hang on a minute.
I’ve heard that a lot lately, ‘story telling’, what is it?
He said it was, er, telling a story in. er, advertising and, er, any media really.
I said okay, so what’s good about that?
What’s new about it?
Where does it differ from what good advertising has been until now?
He said, well, er, it’s sort of, er, about telling a story.
I could see he was getting embarrassed so I let it drop.
But several things worry me.

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COME OFF BROADCAST, GO ON RECEIVE

I’m not a big fan of the TV series Mad Men.
But my wife likes it a lot, so I end up watching it.
Last week there was a sequence in it that I thought was actually very perceptive.
An account man is sitting at a dinner table next to a French philosopher.
The philosopher is cynical about advertising.
He says haughtily “So, what is your job?”
The account man says “I’m an account man.”
The philosopher says sneeringly “And what exactly do you do?”
The account man says “Well what do you do?”
The philosopher says proudly “I am a philosopher.”
The account man says “I hear you’re more than that, I hear you’re very eminent in your field.”
The philosopher raises his eyebrows, surprised that the account man has heard of him.
He says modestly “Well, perhaps you could say I am, yes.”
The account man says “In fact I hear you’re more than a philosopher. I hear you’re a fine teacher, too.”
Blushing now, the philosopher says “Well, my goodness, perhaps that is also true. Yes, indeed.”
The account man says “In fact, I hear that we’d all be a lot better off if we took a lot more notice of your views on many things.”
The philosopher is now thrilled and embarrassed.
He says “Oh, my dear sir, you really are too kind, thank you.”
And he shakes the account man’s hand warmly.
And the account man says “That’s what I do.”
Brilliant.

The account man turned the philosopher’s view from cynicism to trust in just a few sentences.
By talking about the philosopher instead of talking about himself.
By finding out about the target audience.
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BYPASS THE SALT

In the ‘70s and ‘80s the world’s main worry was Armageddon.
The USA and USSR had enough nuclear weapons to destroy all life on the planet many times over.
All it took was one mistake.
That would trigger everything else.
Thousand of missiles, each containing dozens of warheads.
Each warhead hundreds of times bigger than Hiroshima.
In a nuclear war no one could win, because no one would be left.
The heads of the USA and USSR agreed to have talks.
These were known as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.
SALT for short.
As a result of SALT, America and Russia agreed to reduce their nuclear missiles.
Each side had spy satellites so they could monitor whether the other side were keeping their agreement.
What I love is what the Americans did next.
They got creative.

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PREDATORY MEDIA

I’d forgotten how inspiring great media guys can be.
How creative the best ones are.
How they really get predatory thinking.
Mike Yershon was the media director all the creatives respected.
Because Mike broke the rules.
He looked to see what everyone else was doing.
So he could do the opposite.
Mike knew the opportunity was always in standing out from the herd.
And to do that, you had to know what the herd was doing.
Creatives respected Mike because he made their ads look better.
He made sure everyone saw them.
In these days of media independents, we don’t think of it as creative.
We just think of it as numbers.
Mike wasn’t like that, he was media director of CDP when I was a junior writer at BMP.

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