Monday 19 June 2017

Why most of your adspend is wasted - a case for creativity

To all the marketers out there banging your head against a wall wondering why your advertising is ignored. The answer is simple. Most recipients of your advertising messages aren't demanders of it. 

Most people, when they are exposed to your advertising - due to availability, timing, gender, money and a million other reasons - simply aren't in the market for your product.

The implications are obvious. If your audience aren't in the market for your product and therefore not demanders of your message, then they just won’t care about your (message) advertising. And if they don't care about your advertising you're wasting your money. 

And because wasting money is bad, you, and we as an industry, need to reevaluate our obsession with message-oriented marketing (unique selling propositions etc.). 

Says Gossage "The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interest them, and sometimes it's an ad." 

So, instead of creating advertising that's reminiscent of a sales pitch, what if we created ads that entertain, instead? 

Spots that prioritise cut-through over a laundry list of features; that demand the audience  snap out of autopilot and pay attention to the 30 second film in front of them. 

While people may not be receptive to advertising messages, everyone is receptive to great entertainment. 

This isn't just the fanciful musings of an advertising creative. No. This sort of advertising is effective. In fact, it's the only effective sort of advertising, and here's why:

If your audience is entertained by your commercial, they will like it and pay attention. If you achieve this then (assuming you've branded it right) your brand will get fixed in their memory. And if you achieve that, then when your audience are (eventually) in a position to buy you, you have a better chance of that happening because they remember you. 

(Compared to them not paying attention to your advertising, not remembering you and not buying you).

Christopher Ott

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Buyhaviour 8: Imposter phenomenon

"The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler", said Albert Einstein. Unbelievably.

"Impostor syndrome is a phenomenon where people are unable to own their accomplishments. Despite evidence otherwise, those with the syndrome remain convinced they're frauds" (1987).

Originally thought to only effect high-achieving women*; then extended to minority groups; then graduates. From talking to colleagues, I'd say advertising creatives are also susceptible to it. 

Because - unlike doctors or accountants or labourers - our work is subjective. There's no right or wrong in creativity (just like in Einstein's physics) - and this fosters a nursery of doubts. 

Knowing this, you'd think agencies would go out of their way to reassure creatives - the ones that actually make the work that earns them money - that they're valued; that they're not imposters.

But in my experience, inexplicably, the ad industry conspires to keep creatives under the thumb of the phenomenon. 

Even from the very beginning, with grads left with no option but interning for free, and juniors only getting paid a pittance - the least of every department. 

Then throw in the awards culture, that artificially pits creative teams against each other, which inadvertently breeds unscrupulous douchebags that'll do anything to get ahead. 

Plus the vitriolic comments on the blogs (The industry seems incapable of mum's simple rule: If you don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all) - screw professional camaraderie.

And then, if all that wasn't bad enough, a couple of years ago agencies began saying ideas can come from anywhere; totally diminishing the creative's role. 

Without creatives, ad agencies don't exist. Simple. Can we say the same about other departments? But instead of allaying their 'imposter' fears, the industry systemically perpetuates them.

And yet in spite of all this, brilliant work still gets done. Those not eaten alive, the ones that prove to themselves they aren't imposters, come out the other side humbled and empowered - unstoppable. 

I'll leave you with this from Bob Hoffman:"Creative people make the ads. Everyone else makes the arrangements."

*Although not the lead, it's also worth mentioning that I've met a confounding number of intelligent, successful women - from suits to strategists - who suffer from the 'Imposter Syndrome' in our industry. Embarrassingly, many of these points - lower pay especially - are compounded for them - and desperately needs to change. 

Christopher Ott

Discover more Buyhaviour:

Buyhaviour Series: An Introduction 
Buyhaviour 1: Availability Bias 
Buyhaviour 2: Status Quo Bias 
Buyhaviour 3: Confirmation Bias 
Buyhaviour 4: Conjunction Fallacy 
Buyhaviour 5: The Spotlight Effect
Buyhaviour 6: The Matthew Effect  
Buyhaviour 7: Fight or Flight Heuristic
Buyhaviour 8: Imposter Phenomenon 
Buyhaviour 9: Red Queen Hypothesis 

Clance, Pauline Rose; Imes, Suzanne A. (1978). "The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention."

Sunday 15 January 2017

How advertising can save the world

Advertising has the power to change minds, not just toothpaste. And based on what's going on in the Middle East, and even the Frankston bus, there are lots of minds that need changing.

I have school mates who work for the WHO. Uni friends that've set up schools in Timor, and then there's me, in advertising. These friends, the same ones I'd save the world over a cigarette with, are confounded by my decision to work in the ad industry. But i believe in advertising. 

We're at an interesting time in history. Everyone's hyper aware of all the bad in the world.
It's become the 10 minute newsfeed cycle. Clicktavists hit 'like', feel morally satiated and move on. 

And, unfortunately, the people and organisations that do care are like any client too close to their brand. They believe all they need to do is tell people and they'll act. Plus, they simply don't have the money, time or resources for a big behavioural change campaign.

Enter advertising. 
"Advertising justifies itself when it is used for social purposes." Howard Luck Gossage said that, and he's right. 

Advertising holds the key. We know it takes creativity to change minds. Like a kick in the gut, we're versed in the magic that makes people 'feel' problems - not just be aware of them. Not only that, but we also know where a whole lot of money is - our clients. 

That's why it's our job to marry the private greed with the public need. To convince our clients to spend their marketing dollars on campaigns that actually make a difference. 

And it doesn't need to be as lofty as solving humanity's greatest problems like the Coke stuff below (but don't let me stop you).

We live in a time where there's higher levels of depression than ever before. Everywhere you turn; every link you follow there's some charlatan pushing a new brand of self-help. 

So even if we simply created ads that make people laugh - over a sales guy yelling over a powerpoint presentation hurtling a laundry list of features at you - we can help increase the collective utility and make the world a better place. 

This is not the wistful musings of a self-loathing adman. Corporations (our cashed up clients) truly can help save the planet while simultaneously making better advertising than they do. 

Thanks to the Ehrenberg Bass Institute, we all now know that advertising works by helping brands become and stay mentally available - not on how persuasive they can be. And, equally, thanks to IPA's 'Long and Short of It' it's also now irrefutable that effective advertising is about creating big fame-making, emotion-inducing ideas. 

That means, creating and refreshing memory structures is the number one objective of any advertising effort. Whatever ownable association we decide to use to achieve this is up to us. So why wouldn't we use ones that can do some good along the way? Ones that, it turns out, have a greater potential to find fame, incite emotion and ultimately be more effective. 

Every brand you have ever worked on, and will ever work on, has an association with a problem. I've worked on a university  - so we pitched an idea about solving adult illiteracy. I've worked on a bedding retail store - pitched an idea to provide beds for the homeless. 

Think about Luxottica, who owns eye health, how they along 
with Saatchi Sydney won big with their brilliant campaign that tested kids' eyes with the Penny the Pirate kids' book.

Plus, earned media has become the holy grail. Doing good things gets brands in the news like nothing else. 

You have to be inside a plane to change its trajectory. That's why all of us in advertising have to help elevate our industry out of its quagmire of greed and superficiality. 

Advertising is powerful. It can change behaviour. It reaches the masses, which means it has the power to shape culture like nothing else. And like Uncle Ben in Spiderman says: "With great power comes great responsibility". So what are we waiting for?  

Christopher Ott