Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Commercial: Bullmore bon mots

Some notes from last Tuesday's event at the ICA:

- What is transmitted is never what is received. Therefore there is a need to set objectives not in terms of research-proofed propositions or messages, but desired responses. What is it in real life that elicits the desired response from people?

- You need to be very, very subjective in this business: it's the most valuable tool for understanding human behaviour.

- Why aren't there more emotional campaigns these days? It is fiendishly difficult, by definition, to make emotional appeals to the rationally minded... the top chaps [at the clients] will always want to see the numbers.

- Agencies are poor at understanding what it's like to be a client. Agencies can only be true partners with a client if they share the risk of failure for a campaign.

- Famous advertising is not worth pursuing for its own sake...

- ... but there is something puzzling and inconceivable about brand fame. To be considered 'fame', it has to be indiscriminate. But this undermines 'targeting'. Therefore most brand advertising in media is not aimed at the supposed targets; or rather, is seen by people who aren't targets. What a successful brand needs is 'salience'; it has to be there, with public communication, being exposed to 70% of people who won't buy your product. There is a fascinating value in being publicly known.

- Marketing directors used to be knowledgeable and passionate about their sectors; that's changed. An ability to shift stuff is of less importance than a commitment to what it is they're actually marketing. Marketing directors of service companies now have no influence over what is designed, produced, or the levers that actually impact upon the service.

- Integration is increasingly recognised as needed by clients; but this has happened as agencies have dis-integrated, and disintermediation has taken place, when it was most needed for those agencies.

- The most valuable brains and skillsets in the future will be those that know which clues elicit a response that fits in with a general strategy, those that can simplify and get their heads around the whole thing, and understand all the bits and make sure that the stimuli don't contradict each other, too much.

- The best book to read is still James Webb Young's 'How To Be An Advertising Man'. He was an uncomplicated observer truth.

- Agencies are increasingly hiring clones of clients.

- There's been a (not unhealthy) increase in people's suspicion of authority; it's not surprising that advertising would be affected. But there is a difference between 'advertising' and 'advertisements'. People complain about specific ads, but not advertising as a medium. It's not a distrust of advertising, but a healthy scepticism. Scepticism is a lubricant in any trading system - ads put forward a case, so we should be sceptical.

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