Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Monday, September 21, 2015

It Ain't What You Do.

Not all products and services are glamourous. Marketing them well says a lot about the quality of the marketers involved. If you can make the unappealing, appealing then you're a good marketer.

Bodily functions and ailments aren't glamourous, but that doesn't mean the marketing has to fall into the trap of withdrawing into the dull or antiseptic.

Don't bore on about how you solve the problem, just demonstrate what hardship you're removing from their life. How you can set them free.

How do you make the unappealing appealing?

By focusing on the indirect effects. By using brief, clear copy and an elegant and witty image. By being bright (in every sense).

Monday, August 31, 2015

Design Misthinking.

It looks like a clever solution. But really the designer has put the walker in a precarious position and made their journey more mind-consuming than the quicker but longer alternative.

The design has been given precedence over the purpose. Like much marketing, it's become a goal unto itself.

Much better to place a complete strip/bridge across the grille. It wouldn't look as obviously clever as the pictured "solution" but that's what makes it really clever.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Observations From The Conference Frontline.

I recently heard the odd claim that people love lots of brands that they don't buy. Predictably, the advertising industry audience nodded and wrote down the wisdom. I'm sorry but that's patent nonsense. It's a truly odd type of love that inspires apathy. No, people largely don't care about (let alone love) brands and the sooner we all acknowledge that the better.

You may think you're "keynoting", I think you're delivering platitudes at a mediocre event.

And, if your marketing communication claim requires an asterisk (be that for regulatory or statistical explanation reasons), it's not really worth making.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Unevenly Distributed Futures.

Two sentences from a keynote lecture last week.

 "Almost everyone, almost everywhere, carries with them one of the most profound symbols of digital transformation the world has ever seen."

To me, that was alarming enough coming  as it did from a UK government minister who should be more aware of the issues of the digital divide that such an assertion overlooks.

But, within a couple of minutes, he followed with this bizarre clarification of "almost everyone, almost everywhere":

"Today over a quarter of the world’s population own one. It’s both a symbol and a cause of the change we’re living through."

 To be fair, the rest of the speech was good stuff, but while I'm all for progress and futurism, it's also impoetant to stay grounded in reality.

 Otherwise, you get things like this from Cannes where global chief cretaive officer Tham Kei Meng apparently declared that "many of the ads submitted for awards were conservative and should be making more use of innovations such as Oculus Rift".

Because, of course, so many of his clients' customers are walking around with VR headsets and will benefit from such inventive thinking!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Too Clever By Half.

I've become increasingly annoyed by marketers' desire to overcomplicate everything. A recent case in point occurred after a presentation by an advertising industry veteran to whom I had introduced myself. We were joined by a guy who professed to having a background in neurology and was fascinated by how MRI scans could be utilised to better understand the brain and be used to create better advertising.

Notwithstanding the fact that no decent neuroscientist would make any claim about what an MRI tells us (other than the part of the brain that is active at the time of the scan), I hardly think better advertising should be on the list of things that folllow from any such understanding. To his credit, the veteran made the salient point that the brain and the mind are not the same thing.

Why the aversion to keeping it simple. The first port of call is to place yourself in the customer's position. And that's not so hard because we are all customers - maybe not of the product/service you're selling, but of some thing similar. And let us always remember that customers neither work in agencies nor live the agency lifestyle.

Bottom line - as mentioned in this lovely documentary about two successful lyricists fitting their very different words to the same tune - it's better to be right than clever.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Good Idea Is Only The Start.

It's long been known that our ability to read exceeeds the speed at which we usually read. Last year, there was a lot of buzz around a speed-reading app called Spritz and, more recently, Honda sought to link the concept with their mechanical excellence in a series of three videos.
1.165 million views of the first video suggest that a lot of people enjoyed the demonstration of cognition speed and it is undeniably well executed.

But the 346,000 who viewed the follow-up didn't get what they could have got. The new experience is just the old one speeded up and that strikes me as a missed opportunity - both to expand the concept and, more relevantly, to deliver a second message to engaged viewers.

They might walk away from that impressed that cognition is even faster than they thought, but they might also have considered the possibility that the fact that they knew the message might have an impact on that subsequent cognition. I've no idea if that's a valid consideration, but it certainly crossed my mind.

It seems to me that if a different set of words had been introduced in the second ad, or incorporated into the first so that the two speeds were experienced without the need to click through to a second spot, then the impact would have been greater.

Good ideas are hard to find, but once you do it's worth asking how can we make this even better.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Watch The Appeal.

While reading a 2009 interview with Marc Newsom,  I was struck by this seemingly innocuous exchange.

Louise Neri: Is the Solaris a unisex watch? 

Marc Newson: Yes, I’ve never really designed for men or women but most of my watches tend to appeal to men because of their scale and weight. Perhaps this is the first of my watches that will appeal as much, if not more, to women.

Maybe it's my obsession with the negative, but it seems to me that what he should have been asking why his previous watches had repelled many women. It's a similar question, but different.