Tuesday 19 November 2013

Why creatives make lousy strategists

Creatives make lousy strategists. Thank God! Just imagine what it'd be like if the creative process was used to develop strategy. All guesswork and chaos. Sadly, you don’t have to strain your brain too hard to picture this scene; it’s happening everyday in every agency.

Not by creatives posing as strategists (Although that does happen, think Kevin Roberts). Rather, with strategists using a creative technique and peddling it as strategy.  

I'm talking about differentiation. 

A creative's job is simple. We think up big ideas to get a brand noticed and remembered. We do this by differentiating the creative from what’s been done before.

We differentiate the creative so it stands out in the noisy, cluttered marketplace and makes it easy for the brand to be noticed, and then remembered in a buying situation. 

Plus, it's what creatives like to do - create different, original stuff. 

In the 1940's a copy writer named Rosser Reeves (Of who Don Draper is modelled) came along and repackaged this creative technique, coined the term 'unique selling proposition', and sold it to clients as strategy. 

But what’s good for the goose, in this case, is not good for the gander.

Because, when you differentiate an entire brand -  when you give creatives USPs and asinine bulls-eye target demographics named Dave – all you are essentially doing is limiting how many people you reach.

You are selecting to ostracise category buyers who purchase the brand you are trying to be different from, which myopically limits the amount of your potential buyers. (Because people only buy brands they know and remember exist.) 

Even a creative gets that unnecessarily limiting your amount of buyers is counterproductive to success. And choosing to do so is simply sheer lunacy. 

Differentiation has had its day. Reach now reigns. Creatives have been making advertising that’s different, to get noticed, since time immemorial, and will continue to do so. But that’s where differentiation must end. 

Why? Because there’s only one sure-fire strategy to grow a brand, and that’s to increase market share. And to increase market share you need to increase buyers. And to increase buyers you need to reach more people, not less.  

By Christopher Ott

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Amateur hour with Pepsi (Again)

Take a look at this advert. Can you spot what's wrong with it?

Nothing if it was a Coke ad, but unfortunately Pepsi has spent its advertising dollars to increase the exposure of its fiercest rival, again. 

Things have to be seen to be remembered. So, if advertising is about memory building, then using your marketing budget to put your competition's brand in front of your category's eye-balls is simply ridiculous. 

If anything, this advert only serves to prove the strength of Coke's branding, because, if you notice, it doesn't even spell Coca-Cola correctly. It doesn't need to. 

Pepsi has perennially ignored the development of their distinctive assets, proving they have a destructive disregard for memory building. Coke, as you can see, has done the opposite. 

This Pepsi vs. Coke battle is a clash of advertising philosophies. Differentiation vs distinction. Persuasion vs. memory building. Philip Kotler vs. Byron Sharp. 

If you aren't sold on which direction you should take your brand's communications, simply look at the Coke Pepsi battleground. 

Pepsi has demonstrated its ignorance before. Look at their Christmas advert from a few years ago. 

What are they hoping to achieve by making ads that showcase their competition?

Pepsi are second for a reason (Actually, they aren't even second anymore - Diet Coke has overtaken them). 

They have basically provided you with a 'how-not-to guide'. By ignoring its own distinctiveness and spending its own money to increase the reach of their competition's brand, they see themselves losing market share year after year after year. 

Coke has won the battle of the soft drink category. This is in part thanks to Pepsi making the same foolish mistakes over and over. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." 

Windows made the same mistake in their latest Windows Nokia Lumia ad, discussed here:
Rookie mistake Windows, rookieAs did Sodastream in its Superbowl commercial, discussed here: Bogus Bogusky and the Sodastream scheme.

These aren't corner chip shops we're talking about. This frivolous mistake is being made by the biggest brands in the world. So, tell me, when is this insanity going to stop?

By Christopher Ott