Years ago I was a junior at BMP.
‘Suits’ had just begun to stop wearing suits.
Planners and account men began to dress in ‘smart-casual’.
Our managing director, David Batterbee, had long hair and a beard.
He also wore jeans, denim shirts and cowboy boots.
One day he took us to the car park to show us his new car.
It was something called a Range Rover.
It had just been launched and we’d never seen anything like it before.
It was a jeep on the outside but a car on the inside.
We couldn’t figure why anyone would want to buy something like that.
If you wanted a jeep you had Land Rover.
Tough, strong, versatile, go anywhere.
If you wanted a car you had hundreds to choose from.
Why would anyone pick something that wasn’t one thing or the other?
At the time it didn’t make any sense.
Years later of course, it’s obvious.
It was the automotive equivalent of what our managing director was wearing.
Nice clean, well-pressed denim and shiny, clean cowboy boots.
Not cowboy boots you could ride a horse with.
Not real cowboy boots.
Just the look of cowboy boots made for a more comfortable urban lifestyle.
The brilliance of Range Rover was in spotting the opportunity and capitalising on it.
The original Range Rover had just two doors and the interior was designed to be washed out with a hose.
It soon became obvious this wasn’t where the sales opportunity was.
The real sales opportunity was like those cowboy boots.
Looking as if you did rough, tough things, while driving around town and staying nice and clean.
Taking the Range Rover to the opera, the theatre, the school sports day, the office, shopping in Bond Street.
And gradually Range Rover moved the car in that direction.
Adding four doors, a leather interior, state-of-the-art stereo, heated seats, walnut dashboard, air-conditioning, electric sunroof, darkened windows.
The Range Rover became as luxurious as any limousine.
It became the car of choice for rap artists, royalty, visiting dignitaries, billionaires and film stars.
It was made in high-speed, turbo-charged versions.
It was made in sleek low profile versions to make it more attractive to women.
Victoria Beckham even designed a line, and the biggest-selling model is now called ‘The Vogue’.
Range Rover is a great example of the product following the market.
An example of the brand dictating the product.
Last year Range Rover sold a third of a million vehicles worldwide.
Sales were £13.5 billion, and profits £1.5 billion.
Range Rover is a triumph of intelligent marketing.
Everyone seems happy except the man who designed it, Spen King.
He said it was “never intended as a status symbol but later incarnations of my design seem to be intended for that purpose.”
Read more on MOVE OVER ROVER…
When Terry Leahey was 23 he joined Tesco as a junior marketing executive.
By age 36 he was on the board.
Largely because of what he’d done, Tesco became the largest retailer in the UK.
At age 39 he was made CEO.
At age 44 he was voted the UK’s Businessman Of The Year.
The year after that, he was named European Businessman Of The Year.
The year after that, Tesco recorded £2 billion annual profit.
By the time he retired, aged 54, Tesco was the third largest retailer in the entire world.
One pound in every eight spent in the UK was spent in Tesco.
This is the advice Sir Terry Leahey recently chose to pass along:
“Be more tolerant of the difficult people.
They’re the creative ones.
They’re not happy with the status quo”
So one of the most successful businessmen we’ve ever had recommends we learn to value troublemakers.
Of course he does.
People who are satisfied will never change things.
All change comes from dissatisfaction with the way things are.
Every artistic movement, every scientific discovery, every business innovation starts with a desire to change.
Helmut Krone was one of the greatest art directors ever.
He did two of the most important campaigns in the entire history of advertising.
Volkswagen and Avis.
Helmut Krone said “My entire life has been a fight against logos. A logo says ‘I’m an ad, turn the page.”
I recently read something that I never knew.
The Avis campaign has no logo.
Not on any of the ads.
All these years I’ve admired it and I never noticed.
Helmut Krone said “I said to the copywriter, put the name Avis in every headline, that way we don’t need a logo.”
And I just checked and it’s true.
The name is in every headline and there isn’t a logo.
That’s a man who isn’t satisfied with the way things are.
Everyone else accepted that an ad must always consist of 4 elements.
Picture. Headline. Copy. Logo.
Every other advertising person accepted it unquestioningly.
Until Helmut Krone questioned it.
And Helmut Krone did the advertising that helped turn Avis into a $12 billion company.
Think about Helmut Krone and Terry Leahey the next time you do something unquestioningly.
The next time you must have five alternative campaigns to show the client.
Instead of just one brilliant campaign.
The next time you double-guess the client and change the ad before he sees it.
The next time your goal is not to make waves.
Not to upset anyone.
Not to be unreasonable.
Not to go against the accepted way that everyone does things.
Read more on IF YOU’RE NOT MAKING TROUBLE YOU’RE NOT MAKING MUCH…
Portsmouth is a small club with small resources, they didn’t really belong in the Premier league.
But Portsmouth wanted to be in the Premier League.
So they hired Harry Redknapp as manager, for two reasons.
Read more on HARRY’S GAME…
When the two Mikes and I thought about opening an agency, we thought we’d give it a trial run first.
Mike Greenlees briefed me to do a pitch on Holsten Export.
I did a TV campaign and showed it to Mike.
He said “This is really good example of the sort of work everyone is doing for beer right now. I’ll have no trouble selling this. But it doesn’t frighten me. I’m not thinking ‘How the hell am I going to sell it?’ Can’t you do something like that, something that scares me?”
I could have kissed him.
Right there I wanted to open an agency and work with this guy.
So we did.
And the work I subsequently did won the pitch too.
And lots of awards.
Now let’s look behind that story to the relationship between creatives and suits.
I would never admit it, but in my heart of hearts I knew the work I had done the first time was boring.
I was even a bit embarrassed about it.
But like any creative I can’t admit that, even to myself.
What Mike could have said, which would have been equally true, is “This work is dull. It’s what everyone else is doing. Can’t you do anything a bit more exciting than that? Is that the best you can do?”
That would have been equally true, but it wouldn’t have been very likely to get the result Mike wanted.
I’d have said “Fuck off” and stormed out.
Mike didn’t say that, he didn’t put me down.
He gave me a challenge that no creative guy could resist “Can’t you scare me?”
Suddenly, instead of being deflated I’m excited, thrilled.
I can’t wait to start work on a new campaign.
Mike is doing what all the very best account men do for creatives.
He’s making me believe I’m better than I am.
Exactly what the very best football managers do for their players.
He’s making me play at the top of my game.
Most account men, clients, creative directors, planners can’t do that.
They think it’s their job to be a ball and chain.
To hold the creatives back.
To reign them in and curb their worst excesses.
They would never dare to say “Shock me” to a creative.
They’d be terrified of losing control.
One of the main reasons CDP was the best agency in London (if not the world) for two decades was Frank Lowe.
Frank was the CEO and a suit, but he was like Alex Ferguson to the creatives.
He didn’t expect you to play down to a safe, easy to sell, level.
He expected you to be amazing, outrageous, surprising.
Don’t bring him anything that wasn’t frighteningly good.
And the better it was, the harder it was to sell.
And Frank knew only the best suits could sell it.
And Frank (like Mike Greenlees, or Tim Bell at Saatchi’s) knew he was one of the best.
The worst crime wasn’t to be wrong.
The worst crime was to be dull.
That’s largely what’s happened to advertising nowadays.
We work down to the level of what the suits/planners can easily sell.
Down to the level of what clients can easily buy.
We do work that’s predictable, comfortable, unchallenging.
So that’s what runs.
Just like the campaign I did before Mike said “Scare me”.
Read more on SCARE ME…
Jeremy Bullmore was the first to point out how well Victoria Adams understood brands.
As a little girl she said to her mum “I want to be as famous as Persil Automatic”.
Not a princess, not a film star, not a pop star.
Before most of us even knew what a brand was.
Read more on WHAT POSH SPICE CAN TEACH US ABOUT MARKETING…
Last year in San Francisco a group of commuters got on a train and did what commuters normally do.
They took out their mobile phones.
They played games on them, read books, magazines, papers.
Everything completely normal, nothing remotely out of the ordinary.
As the train pulled into the station one of the commuters blew the back of another commuter’s head off.
Everyone was shocked and confused, that it could happen so suddenly, that it came out of nowhere.
But they were even more confused when they saw the replay on the security cameras.
It hadn’t happened suddenly at all.
The gunman had been waving a large calibre .45 automatic handgun around for the entire journey.
Four or five times he took it out of his pocket and waved it around in plain sight.
He even wiped his nose with the hand holding the gun.
No one who was looking could have failed to see the weapon.
And that was the problem.
No one was looking.
Everyone was involved in their own world, their mobile phones.
Playing games, reading books, magazines, papers.
They weren’t part of the same world as the gunman, so they didn’t see him waving the gun around.
Twelve passengers, sitting as close as three feet away, and no one noticed anything.
And the news media is shocked at the behaviour of those commuters.
They didn’t notice anything because they weren’t interrupted.
Surely that isn’t news.
Except for all the digital gurus who were saying advertising is dead because it’s based on the old interruption model.
Funny thing though.
Have you ever tried to watch a video on YouTube without the mandatory pre-roll?
The one that says you have to wait 4 seconds to skip the ad.
What’s that if it isn’t interruption?
Have you ever turned on Facebook and noticed how many sponsored messages there are in your timeline?
What’s that if it isn’t interruption?
Have you ever noticed annoying spam tweets in your Twitter inbox, from people you don’t follow?
What’s that if it isn’t interruption?
These interruptions are badly done and annoying.
If you’re going to interrupt someone the least you can do is be entertaining.
It’s a transaction.
I’ll give you something interesting in exchange for some of your attention.
If I don’t give you something interesting, you’ll ignore it.
It’s always been that way.
Digital gurus need to learn it isn’t a matter of what you do, it’s a matter of how well you do whatever you do.
Good ads work, bad ads don’t.
Whether on TV, radio, posters, press, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.
Read more on IF AN AD RUNS IN THE FOREST AND THERE’S NO ONE TO HEAR IT…….
Amy Webb is a digital strategist and CEO of Webbmedia Group.
So Amy is a powerful, intelligent woman.
But Amy’s love life was a mess.
Amy realised she needed to bring some of the organisation she used in her work to the business of dating.
In her work Amy never depended on luck, on chance.
Yet, like most of us, her personal life was conducted just this way.
So Amy decided to turn dating it into an algorithm.
A step-by-step procedure for getting the desired result.
Random encounters in bars and blind dates weren’t working.
Amy needed a more predictable, controllable environment.
So she chose online dating.
This would give her more scope amongst a broader target audience.
She started by simply filling in the questionnaire as requested.
The results weren’t good.
She didn’t like any of the men who liked her, and vice versa.
Amy realised what was wrong.
She was responding to the process, not controlling it.
She was simply waiting to see which men were attracted to her.
She needed to reverse that.
She decided to start by doing research.
To understand what triggers work with the sort of men she was looking for.
And to find out what her competitive environment was.
So Amy created several fictitious men, of the type she wanted.
Then she entered their profiles onto the online dating site.
She analysed the responses these ‘men’ got from various women.
This was her competitive set.
She saw that these women only showed photos of themselves in attractive poses.
Obvious perhaps, but Amy had just been using holiday snapshots.
She found these women also kept the information about themselves short, less than a hundred words.
As opposed to the several thousand words Amy had been using.
Amy changed her entry according to the competitive set: better photographs, shorter information.
Straight away she started to get more and better responses.
Which meant now the entire dating process was reversed.
Now she had the data she could rank the responses in order of her criteria.
And only consider the ones at the very top.
Amy finally settled on the response which best filled all her requirements, and they went on a date.
So successful was the whole process that they eventually married and they now have a beautiful little daughter.
I particularly like the way Amy turned the situation around.
From passive to active, from prey to predatory.
Amy researched her competitive set by getting them to respond to the sort of man she was interested in.
This gave her enough information to outperform that competitive set.
No one else was smart enough to do this.
No one else understood the simple predatory truth of a purchase decision.
Read more on THE PREDATORY ALGORITHM…
Recently the Daily Mail ran an article on “The Man Who Hated Britain”.
The man was Ralph Milliband, father of Ed.
Ed Milliband will be standing against David Cameron for Prime Minster.
The Daily Mail supports David Cameron.
All fairly simple and obvious.
In advertising terms, hit the competition where they’re weakest.
Ralph Milliband was a communist so that’s where Ed is weak.
What’s dopey, in advertising terms, is not to check your own product first.
The problem is, the Daily Mail is considerably weaker in being portrayed as hating Britain.
The proprietor of the Daily Mail is Lord Rothermere.
Before World War Two, his grandfather was a supporter of Hitler and the Nazi party.
He applauded Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia and suggested he invade Romania.
So he supported a dictator and mass-murderer.
But whatever Rothermere or Milliband did isn’t the real point.
The real point is the editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre.
How dopey do you have to be to attack someone at exactly your own weakest point?
Of course it’s fair enough for the Daily Mail to have a go at Milliband.
That’s their agenda, that’s what newspapers do.
But you make sure of your ground first.
You don’t attack them on a point where you’re weak.
This is as dumb as Mars attacking Cadburys for making people fat.
Or Range Rover attacking Mini for wasting petrol.
Or Microsoft attacking Apple for having software that crashes.
Or McDonalds attacking Starbucks for being unhealthy.
Or Nike attacking Adidas for wasting money on celebrities.
Or China attacking North Korea for being undemocratic.
You don’t do it.
You don’t do it because it’s dumb.
You don’t pick a fight on ground where you have a disadvantage.
You change the ground to one where you have an advantage.
The Daily Mail could have done that.
Ralph Milliband was a passionate communist.
He supported communism even after the downfall of the USSR.
He refused to accept that people wanted socialism not communism.
Ed Milliband was influenced by his father.
He is determined to reintroduce union influence to the Labour party.
And union influence to running the country if he wins the next election.
That is where Ed Milliband is weak.
That is where the Daily Mail is strong.
That is the place any rational person would have chosen to pick a fight.
But Paul Dacre didn’t do that.
And as a result the country now sympathises with Ed Milliband.
The Daily Mail proprietor has had to publicly apologise.
Paul Dacre may well lose his job as editor.
And the whole question of formal controls on the press is being raised.
All because the editor made an emotional decision.
And he got what normally happens when you kick out without thinking.
Read more on DUMB IS WORSE THAN NASTY…
As a religion, Jainism is older than Christianity.
But, in my opinion, it’s considerably more enlightened.
One of the main teachings of Jainism is that all truth is relative.
The limitations of human beings means that no one can ever know the whole truth about anything.
Read more on FRAMING AND REFRAMING…
Every so often my mobile rings when I’m working.
I pick it up and say “Hello”.
Then after a few seconds there’s a click and a bored woman’s voice starts to tell me this is an urgent announcement about how much money I may be owed.
It’s a recorded message about PPI.
Read more on TURNING THE TABLES…