Monday, July 09, 2007

There's no smoke without fire.....

Thanks to Mark_Skinner 1. Usual rules apply.

If you believe some of the figures, there's never been a tougher time to work in an advertising agency. Take a look at this article. And with the likes of the cheeky Zeroinfluencer and his new project (detailed here by Bowbrick), branded entertainment is coming to the fore, allowing people to choose what they'd like to see in the next episode.


Well, I've met the erstwhile Mr Bausola. He's not a frightening man (unless he's just missed Happy Hour). And I applaud him for what he's doing. I think it's the future. And a hearty well done to Ford as well - kudos for rising to the challenge;I doubt it's a coincidence that the last few Ford TV spots have been a lot more thoughtful and provocative. In fact, have a look yourself:

But I want to move away from the (frankly boring) debate about advertising's effectiveness. I'm firmly (and you'd expect as much, considering the title of this blog) in the camp that well produced, planned and above all, interesting work will stimulate a positive response.

But the nature of the work is changing. Indeed, the title of this post is deliberately misleading - I think a lot of advertising agencies and clients will have to wake up to the new worlds that Imagination and co talk about. But at the same time, for some products and services, it may not be the right approach. It's just another way to positively provoke your audience, and one which (I think), is dead right for Ford - who needs another car shot and overarching promises? Far better to entertain first and tie it into a bigger brand thought, a la Honda.

Thanks to the nice people at Modern Mechanix for this. Usual rules apply.

The fact of the matter is, though margins may be tighter, and the likes of TV spend are at a 5 year low, I don't think there's ever been a more exciting time to be working in the business (NB: This is said by every idealistic 23 year old planner, I'm sure). It's like the advent of technicolour; I can now view the world in a new way, and I don't think that's an overstatement.

Out goes the plannery wank that many would use to sell a strategy; I believe Roland Barthes has a lot to answer for when it comes to the advertising community - I don't think I can tolerate sitting through a creative review where signs, symbols and bastardly signification comes up (yes, I had to endure a year of that in first year English - bet you think you dodged a bullet there, eh?).

No, it's slowly being condensed into stories. Stories which will entertain, sell and be relevant (though don't get me wrong - the latter will be bloody difficult to pull off - and that's where a good agency/client relationship comes in).

Instead of being constrained by a 30 second spot, new world agencies can create the narrative. Stimulating, relevant stories which both drive up commerce and allow agencies to flex that creative muscle. And, speaking as a planner, it means that my brand ideas can truly be a strategy, rather than some stop gap solution which is discarded at the same time as the agency is dispensed with.

No, there isn't any smoke without fire. The old model is under threat. But I sincerely hope that the new one will retain the most important elements of the old - creating big brand ideas - with a much more dynamic and stimulating approach. And that we lose this 'seeing ads as advertising people' belief - you are a person. So is your audience. So treat them like that; if you don't, it looks like you'll be out of a job.


Zeroinfluencer said...

Cheeky and not frightening - damn - I must practice more on teh persona.

Thanks for comments - I expect to see you in the Joneses forums and script writing areas testing your planning skills. How far can you steer Ford into new pastures?

Will said...

I shall have a bash, don't you worry.

As for being frightening...I reckon some form of imaginary friend/monocle combination would do the trick.

Hmmm... I think that's where I've been going wrong.

Rob said...

Great post.

You are on a roll sir.

neilperkin said...

Amen. Good post, Will.

collyn said...

I completely agree about narrative and stories... you'll probably get sick of me banging on about it in time, but this is really where it's at. At the gagillian interviews I've been to in the last 2 months, this is the one thing all the companies have in common: they see themselves as 'storytellers'. I'm not sure if this is the new 'ad man', but it certainly seems it. And the best part, some of them are BDAs, but some are little upstarts and digital and product design and consultancies, too. So this is starting to go across the board... taking the lessons about stories in space that Imagination (and co.) have taught us, and realising the power of participation in the ever-changing definition of 'conventional' ad making.

Great post... see you round soon! xcollyn

Will said...


I don't get sick of talking about narrative; it's kind of an inbuilt English Lit studenty thing, and it underpins how I see the world. It's bloody good to be around at this stage, where a dialogue can truly be created with the technology we have at the moment.

And yes, like yourself, I seem to see a trend emerging at the places I've worked at...which is great.

TomLR said...

Let me say from a salesman's perspective - stories make it easy for customers to buy. Salespeople love stories - or they should. Stories can bring salesmen and 'marketeers' together. I haven't done any sales courses - but one of the first things you need to do as a salesman is make the customer understand what it is that you are selling - pure and simple, no spin, no hype, no 'message'. If you do this with the use of a story you can achieve some form of differentiation even before you've given them the USP - you CAN make them understand, and make them feel some level of fondness too. That can be a very powerful thing to have done when you go through the rest of the stages.

Adtishoo! said...

At the risk of being boring, I completely agree with your storytellers angle as well. Its so much more engaging than bland old testimonials etc. Good post.

Anonymous said...

Yes there is smoke without fire have you never hurd of a smoke bomb or a smoke machine!

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