From the ever entertaining and brilliant meme huffer blog, here are some thoughts to take you into the weekend:
On why fearing the future is futile:
“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” – John Cage
In my early days as a planner, I remember reading an article by Steve Henry (then of HHCL, now at TBWA London), where he gave his opinion on strategy and effective communication.
The words that stuck with me were “what is = what was” and this simple statement has deeply affected the way that I think about brands and communications.
If we want to cut through the 3000+ messages that the average consumer is exposed to every day, we need to stand out. We need to be different. Merely adhering to the tried and (research) tested category cues won’t work.
By definition, new ideas are scary. No one has done them before, so you don’t have a convenient case study. Qual research is unlikely to help, as people tend to be uncomfortable about the unfamiliar.
But this is no excuse.
Be brave, be bold and find a way to help your clients be likewise.
…which, of course, is the tricky part:
“No amount of sophistication is going to allay the fact that all your knowledge is about the past and all your decisions are about the future.” – Ian E. Wilson
On Messaging – the final word (one can hope):
“To define is to kill; to suggest is to create” – Stéphane Mallarmé
On Innovation and the naysayers:
“The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar… Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen.” -Aldous Huxley
One of my favourite hobby-horses, this.
When the consumer research comes back against your brilliant, ground-breakingly original idea, remind the client that Heineken ‘refreshes the parts’ failed research.
As did the Dyson vacuum.
And the Aeron chair.
And the computer mouse.
And the Sony Walkman.
And the cash machine.
And Guinness ‘Surfer’.
And Stella Artois ‘Jacques de Florette’
On Insight, context, and the human factor:
If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words” -Cicero
Pretty fundamental, this one.
Get to know your customers, not just as demographic segments but as real people. Use your research budget to gain insight into their lives. Find out what makes them tick. Discover their fears, dreams and aspirations.
“Thanks for this. As discussed please can you reference the message hierarchy from the revised brief on the ‘Revised brief (abridged)’ chart and then explicitly spell out the roll [sic] for each media in terms of that hierarchy.
“I think that the key to the success of the plan is to ensure that we have executional alignment in terms of the creative messaging.
please can you make sure that the role of each media is explicitly referenced on the fusion brief in the same way. Thanks.”
(Unknown – from an email)
On Creative Problem Solving:
“The best possible solutions come only from a combination of a rational analysis based on the nature of things, and imaginative reintegration of all the different items into a new pattern, using non-linear brain power.” -Kenichi Ohmae, ‘The Mind of the Strategist’
On How Marketing is regarded by just about everyone outside this industry:
“Marketing is the art of associating products with ideas to bamboozle consumers. For example, a commercial in which a supermodel drinks piss from a thimble will lead ugly viewers to follow suit – which is good news for you because you’ve got a warehouse of thimbles and an endless supply of piss, and bad news for anyone who hoped the smoking ban might leave the nation’s pubs smelling fresher. People in marketing often talk about the “personality” of a given product. A biscuit might be “reassuring and sensual”; a brand of shoe may exhibit “anarchic yet inquisitive” tendencies. Marketers have built their worldview on such thinking, despite it being precisely the sort of babble a madman might come up with following years alone in an isolated cottage, during which time he falls in love with a fork and decides the lightbulbs are conspiring against him. Sadly, the analogy ends here, for while madmen are rewarded with straitjackets and medication, marketers receive six-figure salaries and round-the-clock sexual favours from people 200 times prettier than the prettiest person you’ve ever seen, even fleetingly, even from afar or in a magazine”.
(Courtesy of The Guardian)
On following your vision… and not everyone’s else’s lack of vision:
“If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.” -Henry Ford
Good stuff. Have a great weekend, everyone. And be sure to add jason lonsdale’s blog to your blogroll. As you can tell, it’s always a great read.