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    January 03, 2007


    Rob @ Cynic

    Totally agree with you Gareth - though the thing about the Henry Ford quote that always bugs me is that people forget all he would have had to do is ask why people would want a faster horse - and then he'd see that people were open to a form of transportation that would get them to their destination point faster than conventional means.

    It's all about interpretation ... then testing that interpretation ... as opposed to taking everything on pure face value which is what a lot of people seem to be doing these days and is why that Henry Ford quote bothers me.

    'WHY' is the most powerful word in our arsenal and yet so many people either don't use it at all [basing it on personal assumption/post rationalism] or stop after using it just once.

    Still ... hope your dangerous idea [which sounds more common sense than danger really, ha] see's you making 2007 your proudest year yet.

    Rob @ Cynic

    ... and a bloody happy new year to you too.


    And happy new year to you Rob. You're perhaps right about it being common sense, but that's often dangerous. Voltaire said many years ago that common sense is not so common.

    Rob @ Cynic

    Absolutely ... common sense is not always that common - but I guess that's why we're paid to do what we do ... ensure we see/understand humanity without prejudice ... and then identify how to use those findings in a way that motivates action in a way that benefits both our clients and customers needs alike.

    I still say appreciating what really is common sense [be it common or not] comes from questioning, observing and experiencing and interpreting ... which is why the Henry Ford quote bugs me because it seems to imply that the consumers needs/wants [even if they are subliminal] are superfluous to business innovation.

    Hmmm, time for me to sleep - jetlagged to death. Have a good one mate.

    Liam @ Hall & Partners

    And even a qual researcher can wholeheartedly agree with that. The most frustrating part of our jobs is often searching for an insight that can be said in a focus group, captured verbatim on video and used to help a brand manager/agency/whatever absolve their responsibility to think and decide

    So much of great and inspiring research or 'insight' involves using real people as stimulus to your own gut feel or wider knowledge and just plain old creative inspiration.

    Rob @ Cynic

    Liam, please don't take my comments as anti-researcher/research .... they weren't meant be ... they were actually anti-anyone who only takes peoples comments on face value.

    They're so many subliminal 'hints' [be it words, behaviour, social background, possessions etc etc etc] that can help lead to a really fresh and interesting insight [which of course then also has to be explored and evaluated/validated] but it shocks me how many individuals [client/research/agency alike] ignore these and only accept comments straight from peoples mouths.

    What scares me most is when a client accepts one persons comment over everyone else simply because it validates their particular point of view whether positive or negative. That not only screws up the chance of developing great communication, but also their core business potential, not to mention their customers loyalty.

    Marcus Brown

    my dangerous idea is that consumers want to be entertained. They don't care about brand stories, cells, ideas, streching et. al, they want to have fun and experience something interesting. If you're going to interupt me somehow, please make it interesting even if it's for something I would never buy.


    My dangerous idea is to get five consumer on-board, everytime an ad/campaign is required to be done for a brand. They can write (precise/essay/one liner) draw, paint, photoshop, enact, tell a story, sing, dance or create a ad, basically anything that they feel the brand communication should be and use that as a creative brief.

    Rob @ Cynic

    Whislt I totally agree that entertainment is a must in anything that is done - only focusing on entertainment without a defined reason behind what you're doing/what you came up with is pure self indulgence and one of the main reasons why many companies [and consumers] don't give advertising any respect.

    I agree consumers don't care about ideas, stretching, cells - but to only use a startegy of 'grabbing attention' seems poor. Apple, Virgin, IKEA, BodyShop, Amazon etc etc built sales success WITH consumer loyalty because of many factors [from product and distribution to price and format] but underpinning it all was that it meant something to consumers other than just doing entertaining ads - though I admit that did help build the relationship in the first place.

    Rob @ Cynic

    Marcus - I've just read my comment and it has come out harsher than I intended. Sorry mate - I am a huge fan of you and your blog, it's just this entertainiment without substance attitude drives me nuts, whether you agree with me or not, ha! Cheers.

    Picklin Paul

    Interesting stuff - I think persuasion maybe more important than entertainment.

    Sure we have to capture people's attention. But ultimately if someone, somewhere doesn't buy something we're out of a job.

    Central to this is having a point of view and standing for something. Which is where I agree with you Gareth. Just relying on customer understanding without interpretation will not produce a distinct point of view.

    Rob @ Cynic

    Well said Picklin ... interpretation is vital to truly understand what consumers think/feel/want and yet too many people only take comments on face value.

    Given I am repeating myself, I think I'll go and enjoy the last few hours of my holiday.


    Marcus Brown

    Rob - I totally hear what you're saying Rob, but it's your job, not mine to give it all a little substance. I don't work in the industry anymore, I'm out, so somebody else has to take on that responsibility.

    For a consumer, advertising is an interruption and a pain in this arse, except when the interruption is "worth while". With the onslaught of "cheap television" (reality TV et. al) the opportunity to actually do something interresting is huge. But it's being missed.

    Your applying planner logic to consumer logic. You're applying your day to day battle with clients, suppliers and creatives to my day to day battle with the rubbish that interrupts me.

    Obviously my idea was dangerous than I thought.

    p.s. You're kind words blew me away, many thanks and dito my friend. aahhh.

    Mark Earls


    My dangerous idea: marketing doesn't matter.

    When we sit in the marketing bubble it's hard not to imagine that what we do is important and valuable to our clients and their consumers.

    Truth is it's neither. On the one hand if our clients wait til it gets to marketing to make the difference they (and we) are already in smoke and mirrors land. Businesses, brands, products and services need to grow from differentiation not the other way round. Who wants to make the wrapper?

    On the other (and this is the really scary bit): real lives are made up largely with other people (not things so much and certainly not brands, strategies, ads, websites etc). We are built for a world of other humanoids (which is the truth that t'internet and mobile are revealing). From the moment we're born, to the day we die, it's other folk (real or imagined) that make our lives up. So at best a brand or product might facilitate our interaction with other folk or give us somethng to talk about, but it is never ever going to match the real deal: other people.

    Rob @ Cynic

    Hi Marcus ... please don't misunderstand me, I am a proud believer of 'CONSUMERS DON'T GIVES A DAMN ABOUT COMPANIES OR THEIR ADVERTISING' [hell, my company is called cynic for christsake -] and I go to great lengths to ensure any work I do is entertaining, disruptive and interesting ... it's just that I don't believe entertainment and strategy need to be mutually exclusive because when handled with care, they can produce great results which consumers are motivated and entertained by as demonstrated by work for Virgin, Tango, Mini, Apple and Sony to name but a few.

    I suppose the key thing is to not think interms of just ads ... and develop 'stuff' that gathers peoples interest in a clever, involving ways - which is why I credit Harry Potter and the Spice Girls as being more powerful brand successes than Coke and Macca's.

    The thing that pisses me off is when the strategy is so obvious that even my Mum could tell me what it is ... but by the same token, having people question what the hell the ad was for is also a totally irrational use of communication funds.

    I pride myself on being a consumer first, a planner second - infact our company ethos is that the public are our clients and we only let brands interact with them if they do something interesting and beneficial - and I know most ads/media channels utilised today are so crappy that they're more of an ad to NOT consider the brand - but done right, done interestingly, done freshly [and that includes what you say, how you say it, where you say it] it can still motivate a consumer action more than almost anything else.

    I guess that's why I like the net ... it has singlehandidly put the need to be interesting and fresh back on the agenda.

    All the best mate ...

    Rob @ Cynic

    Last thing ... my 'planning logic' IS to focus only on 'consumer logic' otherwise my belief is I'm not doing my job properly.

    God I'm being pedantic tonight/today aren't I.

    Sorry again!

    Marcus Brown

    I've never known Rob to say sorry so much. Getting worried about this me.

    Funny, I was in Hospital yesterday. Four hours of non interruption, and the whole time this post and the discussion with Rob was going through my head. Will post about it, soon.

    Rob @ Cynic

    Marcus - it's the new me ... or the fact that I need to earn some 'good-karma' points before all hope is lost.

    Hope the hospital visit was OK.

    Marcus Brown

    vital signs are a-o-k. See, even in moments of peril, I'm still thinking about all this nonsense.

    Rob @ Cynic

    Yes Marcus - which proves you are more ill than either of us thought, ha!

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