Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Now I know it’s time to retire.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

AI-CD β

The world’s largest advertising agency, McCann Erickson, has just hired an artificial intelligence (AI) creative director (CD) – his name is AI-CD β.

This has got me worried.

AI-CD β is designed to work alongside the humans to develop the look and feel of the advertising. It is automated to troll through award winning commercials, that have been tagged as relevant. From that data it develops a brief, of what the commercial should look like, then humans take over and come up with a creative concept.

AI-CD β has a physical presence and is capable of writing the brief for the human creative team. As this bot was developed by McCann Ericsson in Japan, the brief is written in Japanese calligraphy.

To my mind this process is back-to-front in two ways.

Firstly, the look of the commercial should be driven by the idea, which should come first. The creative concept should contain the hook, or idea, that gets the consumer involved and then gives the commercial relevance and memorability.

Secondly, great creative thinking doesn’t come from copying another idea but from creating something that is uniquely different.

There is however another aspect to this use of an AI-CD that’s of more concern.

And that’s if this concept takes-off, and bot creatives become the norm and are successful, who will go up to the podium to collect the awards?

http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/science/future/article/2016/04/26/when-new-guys-robot

Put the magic back into advertising.

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

rabbit_and_hat_6

The only way a client will buy an idea is if it’s sold to them.

These days they just don’t buy it without a solid, business based, rationale.

In the past an ad agency was a magnet for clients. They were drawn there because it was a wonderful world of clever thinking and creativity.

Yes, there was booze, long lunches and pretty girls but there were strange people who dressed differently and, more importantly, thought differently. They were challenging, aggressive and they had ideas that were beyond the client’s grasp but, strangely, they seemed to work.

Clients trusted the agency to create solutions that would help their business grow.

So why did the clients suddenly decide they could do it all themselves?

It wasn’t sudden, it took years, because over time we abrogated our responsibility.

We took the path of least resistance.

We failed to quantify the ROI that good creativity can deliver and settled for delivering ‘what the client wanted’ rather than ‘what the client needed’

In other words it was easier to capitulate than fight. This resulted in the client believing that he was right.

Once that happened it took the magic out of advertising.

The client then believed that they could come up with the ideas and they could make the ads. All they needed was a Mac and a technician.

The rest is history.

They now have the Macs, the technicians and a belief that agencies are nothing but a cost centre that they can probably do without.

There is also a belief that the media is the message.

Success won’t come by simply having a presence on Facebook or YouTube. These messages still need to have an idea, one that will catapult them beyond being just a public announcement.

We have to put the magic back.

This will only happen once we give our clients something that they can’t do themselves. And that is still clever creative thinking.

However there is no magic wand that we can wave to return the status quo. We now have to ‘prove’ our worth by justifying the value of that creativity.

This will come down to statistics and the ability to quantify how a creative approach is worth the perceived risk.

It will also come from reintroducing the idea that a creative solution is also better value for money than a mediocre one, or no idea at all.

Creativity sells, it always has done and still does now.

Agencies once promoted themselves as being the conduit between the client and the consumer – we have forgotten how important that is. By connecting the client and consumer, through great advertising ideas, we can again prove our worth.

Short term thinking and instant rewards are no excuse for taking the easy way out. Clients need to look seriously at their brand, its lifecycle and then be made aware of how important building a sustainable, long term, brand image is.

We must educate them to be able to articulate the importance of their brands to their senior managers.

In most cases we are not dealing with decision makers within our client’s business. At best we are talking to the people who have the power to say “Maybe”.

Arming the timid marketing person with the arguments to sell strategies and great ideas must be part of what we do.

Great work isn’t bought by clients, it’s sold by agencies. Advertising is the art of selling and great ideas need to be sold.

Casting. 

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Lee_Lin_Chin

The latest installment of the long running Australia Day Lamb Campaign has been released.

This highly regarded series of ads started in 2005 and stars Sam Kekovich. Sam has always been very forthright in his approach to eating lamb, especially on Australia Day, and he castigates anyone as being un-Australian if they disagreed.

In this day of inclusiveness Sam’s brutal approach could be misconstrued as being overtly nationalistic.

Enter Lee Lin Chin, the legendary newsreader for SBS.

This is an inspired piece of casting, that brings a new face to the Australian Meat and Livestock campaign. It proves once and for all that you don’t need to be a white Australian male to enjoy a lamb chop.

Not surprisingly the latest commercial has still received a number of complaints, this time from the vegan community. They believe that the torching of the kale, by the commandos, borders on violence towards those; “…soap avoiding, hippy, vegetarians” as Sam described them in the original ad.

Good ads stand out by being controversial – this one is no different.

The sales figures also back up the success of the campaign, with butchers reporting that lamb sales skyrocket by 35% around January 26th.

Watch the Australia Day Lamb 2016 ad here.

‘F’ is for Ford or is it for frightened? 

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Ford Mustang poster small

What does the latest Ford posters say about the company?

For one it says they are frightened; frightened that their ever dwindling market share is going to vanish completely into an Australian heat haze.

Why else would you feature a poster campaign where the logo is larger than the product and the proposition is even smaller still.

Ford will stop manufacturing cars in Australia later this year, and it’s my guess that these ads are more about propping up confidence in the dealer network, than they are about selling vehicles.

Given the new car sales figures for 2015, they should be worried.

Ford were 6th, with 70,454 sales (down 11.6%) and behind, of all manufactures, Mitsubishi with 71,752.

2015 was a bumper year for car sales with 1,155,408 vehicles sold – a 3.8% rise on the previous year.

Holden and Ford were the only companies to post a sales decline, with Ford having its worst year since 1966. Even the Mercedes-Benz C-Class comfortably outsold the Ford Falcon.

It appears that Australians have already given up on Henry.

Why does a video go viral?

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

On Wednesday January 15, during the Melbourne heatwave, my son Evan posted a video on Vimeo.

It was a simple time lapse shot of a Lindt Chocolate Ball melting in the 42°C heat.

In just 3 days over 150,000 people have viewed it and it has been syndicated by news agencies around the world.

It was even aired on the Channel 7 News here in Melbourne.

For years advertising agencies have been trying to identify the formula that makes videos go viral. There are many theories but no real answers.

It simply comes down to the right idea at the right time, viewed by the right people.

But that’s easier said than done.

 

The best way to position a brand
is to reposition the opposition.

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Last year I worked on an advertising campaign for MAN Trucks .

MAN (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg) are market leaders in Europe but are trailing behind in Australia.

Through desktop research and general observation we discovered that many Australian buyers chose MAN because of its fuel efficiency. As fuel is the single biggest expense in operating a long-haul truck in Australia, it wasn’t surprising.

Fuel efficiency is taken for granted in Europe, where diesel prices are high and MAN are regarded as leaders in fuel efficient technology.

This is understandable considering that in 1893 Rudolf Diesel worked with MAN to develop the first diesel engine – with fuel efficiency being a primary objective.

We developed five ads in the campaign, all with the express purpose of promoting the MAN fuel efficiency story.

By simply talking about fuel consumption we challenged the consumer, and the industry, to reassess their thinking.

This simultaneously repositioned the others manufactures as being less fuel efficient.

The madmen behind Mad Men.

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Since our return from Europe and more recently South Korea and Japan, we have decided to catch up on some of the TV series we missed in 2012.

Not surprisingly one series I have always enjoyed is Mad Men, a period drama about the New York advertising industry in the 1960s’.

New York was at the centre of what was called the Creative Revolution during these halcyon years.

The ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) developed ground breaking campaigns for clients like Volkswagen and Avis during this time.

Mad Men was created and produced by Matthew Weiner, an exceptional screen writer who was also involved in the highly acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos.

Having been inducted into advertising at the end of that amazing era and being a student of the ads of that period, I was intrigued as to how Weiner got his material.

It turns out that one of his main consultants was Bob Levenson, a veteran ad man from DDB. Levenson, together with Bill Bernbach and art director Helmet Krone produced some of the most well know and enduring campaigns of this golden age.

It’s not surprising that Mad Men has become such a hit, as it offers the viewer a real insight into the lives, work, frustrations, faults and foibles of the men and women of Madison Avenue in the 1960s.

Mad_Men_3

 

Le Tour. There’s only one winner.

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

It’s been another 3 weeks of staying up late watching the Tour de France.

This is its 100th anniversary.

The countryside was constantly changing, as they moved from Corsica, through the Riviera, the Pyrenees, Brittany, the Alps and then on to Paris.

Unfortunately the ads, unlike the views, all had a boring similarity.

Except for one charminmg little spot for H&R Block, Tax Accountants.

It was simple. Two guys on their bikes.

It was relevant. Two guys on their bikes.

And it dramatised the proposition. Two guys on their bike with one making complex stuff look really simple.

My bertet goes off to Us Sydney, who created the spot and Plaza Films who produced it.

The death of the written word.

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

I no longer buy a hard copy of newspapers but prefer to read them online. They’re portable, easy to read and have high quality resolution for the graphics and photos.

In many ways they’re far superior to the printed versions.

However many of the online news and editorial articles are increasingly containing video. In fact one of our local Melbourne newspapers, The Age, is becoming more of a TV station than a newspaper.

Audio books are also on the increase and now Google has announced that their primary mode of search will be voice activated not written.

The result of this visualisation of content is that many people will prefer to have their news and information read to them rather than reading it for themselves.

When I was a kid I loved having books read to me but I only got to really appreciate the joy of literature when I started to read them for myself.

It was my voice, in my head, interpreting the words and filling in the gaps.

My voice was painting the pictures and creating ’The World’ of a particular story or author.

Advertising used to be a combined craft of the visual and the verbal, with quality pictures complementing excellent writing. Now most ads consist of an average picture, headline and a short, boring, piece of copy.

Long copy ads, that involved the reader in a journey of discovery about a product or service, have vanished. They’ve been replaced by a fast grab of visual and verbal cliches.

The beauty of the written word is that it involves you in a two way communication. You read the words, interpret them and are subsequently rewarded by that creative act of interpretation.

I loved reading the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein. Through his craft he was able to described a world that was beyond our creation. Yet because of our imagination we were able to see that world, in our mind’s eye and visualise it for ourselves.

Seeing Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the Hobbit was exciting but no more so than creating my own vision of The Shire, Gollum and Middle Earth.

If we lose the written word we will lose the ability to create visions of our own.

And what a loss that would be.

Would you buy a ‘Gonski’?

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

If it was a fleet of the new Gonski Stealth Jet Fighters, then security and border protection would be the benefit.

If it was the Gonski High Speed Rail Link, running up the east coast, between Melbourne and Brisbane, then we would benefit from the convenience.

A Gonski Dam on the Ord River, would open up vast areas for cultivation and the subsequent benefit of increased food production.

Most Australians would see the value in paying 14.5 Billion Dollars for one of these Gonskis. That’s because we all understand what an fighter jet, rail network or a dam can deliver.

History has etched that in our minds.

Now the Gonski school funding reforms are different. It’s a complex issue to understand, let alone sell to the average punter.

There have been a number of newspaper articles written recently trying to articulate what a Gonski is. Here is the most recent one from SBS.

‘Selling’ has never been the strong point of the current government. They follow the polls when making policy decisions but don’t listen to the consumer when it comes to articulating their benefits.

They need a good advertising agency.

When the late, and very divicive, Maggy Thatcher came to power in 1979 she used the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi to sell her agenda. They came up with the ‘Labour isn’t working’ poster.’ This very quickly and simply articulated the Tory message.

I think Julia could take a leaf out of Maggie’s book and hire a good ad agency to help sell the Gonski.