..can be incredibly powerful. Even in today's digital world. Especially when they are as good as this from the excellent W&K for Nike+. It makes the news this week in the trade press even harder to fathom.
Things are going to be a little quiet, if not silent, here over the next 2-3 weeks as I head off on vacation. First to Palm Springs and the Coachella Festival, and then on to Singapore to see my best friend and her family who moved out there last year. (If I'm lucky I may also bump into Rob for a cup of tea). Hopefully, some of you will be back here when I return.
There's an interesting article in today's Independent where Sir Frank Lowe argues that advertising is in crisis, and points to five reasons why, in his mind, we don't make good ads anymore. Sir Frank is a legend in the industry, and I was lucky enough to soak up some wisdom from him at my time at Lowe, but I disagree with his argument.
I passionately believe that there has never been a more exciting time to work in advertising. I don't think, like Sir Frank, that it's about going back in time to some golden era; rather, I believe this industry is going to have to go through profound change,
and challenge a lot of assumptions that have mistakenly become
perceived as facts. And that excites me, particularly as a planner.
I was rather surprised by the final reason Sir Frank stated:
"The parallel universe of planning. Good ads were originally a
combination of the client's knowledge and courage, the planner's
understanding of the consumer, the creative department's intuition and
the account person's work as producer. Now, the planner works with the
client and decides the strategy, which is then given to the creative
department. If a creative disagrees, he's normally told to get on with
it. So many ads simply play out the strategy verbally and visually,
without imagination. Advertising creative work has become more about
information and less about persuasion."
Makes me wonder what kind of planners he's been working with? And what kind of working environment exists at The Red Brick Road ? Surely, good planning is all about persuasion and collaboration? And isn't his argument really about a dearth of imaginative strategies? If it was, perhaps I'd agree.
Is this the new spelling bee? I love the dedication of the champion (worth noting that the 13 year old beat the 23 year old):
"Pozgar said she trained by sending on average 8,000 text messages a
month to her friends -- an astonishing rate of one every five and a
half minutes. She pays 10 dollars a month for an unlimited text package
on her cell phone."
Interesting post today over at the marketing & strategy innovation blog. It talks about a presentation given by the COO of Mediacom, Harvey Goldhersz who talked about the fact that "the best brand communications today deliver a service". I don't disagree, but I do worry about how this kind of thinking is seen as new.
Brand communications, in the form of the selling message or the USP, delivered a service in the eras of James Webb Young or Rosser Reeves - they communicated news about a product that made it unique, and therefore useful to the public. But as we have foolishly increased the number of brands with little real product difference, this model of communication or marketing has had to change and the difference is increasingly being baked into the marketing rather than the product. Hence, we see the increasing blur between what is product and what is marketing; and the rise of marketing providing branded utility. This is the difference in my mind today and why, unless we grasp this, marketing resistance and apathy will continue to increase.
I’ve just been on the slowest train known to man from Boston to New York, so slow that it seemed to have its own system of time. Thankfully, boredom was staved off by reading a rather fantastic and provocative book by David Weinberger on the impact of the internet called Small Pieces Loosely Joined (not a bad metaphor for brands either). In short, it’s a book that seeks to capture the real effect of the internet on society, and its effect in making us rethink our relationship of fundamental concepts like space, time and perfection (great stuff on why perfection is a bad thing btw).
One of the most interesting things in the book (at least to me) was his analysis on how the internet challenges our inherited worldview on space. He draws the distinction between our two views – that of measured space (think of the map grid), and that of lived space filled with things such as houses, trees and bicycles. The problem we have with the internet is that we as a society have taken the measured world too far, and have abstracted the map grid so we believe the entire universe fits within it. And here’s the problem:
“..the difference between knowing that we can, when required, measure something and believing that space consists of uniformed, measured distances is vast. Because we measure things to make them fit, we pay close attention to the things we measure….it turns our attention away from the stuff of our world. It has become the very definition of ‘space’ according to our “default philosophy”, the set of beliefs about our world that we hold so deeply that it feels like common sense.”
A very profound comment on how we often fail to understand the power of the internet. And equally profound in a world obsessed by marketing metrics based on models of thinking that may not be true, or at least universally binding.
Russell has posted about the changes he’s making to his blog. All sounds very exciting and will still be great to read, but I just wanted to say that I for one will miss his regular blogging about brands and ads and stuff. He’s the main reason I started this blog up, and this rise of blogging in the planning community is one of the main reasons I believe why planning is going through one if its most exciting periods at the moment. Thanks Russell for everything you’ve done to get some big conversations rolling and I look forward to more interesting, albeit different, stuff from the front of the train.
David over at logic+emotion points us to some research from Bain & Co among 1200 global executives which points to 'new seriousness about consumer insight'. Here's some of the data:
Nearly 6 in 10 executives are concerned that their products and
services are viewed as commodities, i.e., that their value is easily
replaceable by cheaper competitors Just over half of executives believe that insufficient consumer insight is hindering their performance
This, frankly, scares me. It scares me because the word insight here is almost guaranteed to mean information. And when you walk into any company the last thing any of them really needs is more information. They've got literally tons of it locked up in cabinets and boxes in corridors, basements and storage facilities. And for the most part, it's the same raw information and observation masquerading as consumer insight that sits somewhere in their competitors. Surely what companies really need to do is look for new, important, interesting connections and patterns out of all the data they already have - be it consumer, competitive or cultural - and understand how this relates to their inner purpose, and how they can harness it. This is what makes companies interesting and useful. And today, this is what drives value.
New research shows that the brain processes and retains less information if it is digesting the same information verbally and visually at the same time. Helps explain why PowerPoint presentations are often so unmemorable and confirms the counterintuitive thought that using 'see say' in communications is actually less, not more, effective.