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Talk at VCU Brandcenter on the future of ideas. I think it's time to retire this shtick.

Published in: Business


  1. 2. My contention: Now is the most exciting time to work in advertising. Ever.
  2. 3. Conflict. Crisis. Resolution.
  3. 4. The conflict between ‘us’ and ‘them’
  4. 6. Source: TGI % “ I enjoy the ads as much as the TV programmes”
  5. 7. Source: TGI % “ TV ads are annoying”
  6. 8. Source: OMD Proprietary DVR Study 2006 % “ I don’t recall seeing any commercials while watching the programme” ( American Idol or Desperate Housewives )
  7. 10. Images courtesy of Russell Davies
  8. 11. Images courtesy of Russell Davies (above) and Wooster Collective (right)
  9. 12. Hugh MacLeod –
  10. 13. This conflict has created a crisis: more often than not, what we do doesn’t work.
  11. 14. Epic fail. <ul><li>“In most categories a brand’s market share is stationary” </li></ul><ul><li>4 out of 5 categories seen as increasingly homogeneous </li></ul><ul><li>Less than 1 in 10 ads seen as different </li></ul><ul><li>4% response rate successful in DM; 0.5% average click-thru rate for banners </li></ul><ul><li>3x $ spent on price cutting as on ‘brand building’ in packaged goods </li></ul>Sources: Andrew Ehrenberg; Copernicus Consulting; McKinsey
  12. 15. This is because we have the wrong map and the wrong directions.
  13. 16. 1. We focus on the wrong thing.
  14. 17. Consumer. Brand. Business.
  15. 18. Culture.
  16. 21. The most interesting people and things are multi-faceted, full of depth and nuance.
  17. 22. 2. Lost in translation.
  18. 24. A brand is a business’ social manifestation. <ul><li>We live in two worlds, one of ‘social exchanges’ and one of ‘market exchanges’ </li></ul><ul><li>Historically, we’ve focused on translating commercial grammar into social grammar (rather awkward, like offering your friend’s mum $10 for cooking you dinner) </li></ul><ul><li>We need to translate the other way and bring social grammar into the commercial world. </li></ul>
  19. 28. It’s not about social media. It’s about social ideas and unsocial ideas.
  20. 29. 3. The pursuit of the wrong objectives.
  21. 30. The usual objectives are wrong. <ul><li>Awareness doesn’t really matter in a world of overchoice </li></ul><ul><li>Attributes and attitudes, adjusted for brand size, don’t change </li></ul><ul><li>Image doesn’t shift until after behavior </li></ul>Source: Andrew Ehrenberg
  22. 31. Source: “The Brand Bubble”, John Gerzema It’s energy that matters. The active or moving force of a brand
  23. 33. We can resolve this crisis by realizing that what makes a great idea today is different.
  24. 34. Great ideas today are different. <ul><li>Have a point of view on the world, not a position in the category. </li></ul>
  25. 35. Have a social mission, not just a commercial proposition.
  26. 36. “ Like any company we require a profit to stay in business. But it is not the reason we are in business. The thing that has not changed from day one is the desire to make people think about the world we live in. This is, and always will be, why we are in business.”
  27. 40. Photo: Andrew Hovells (aka Northern Planner)
  28. 41. Photo: Andrew Hovells (aka Northern Planner)
  29. 42. <ul><li>Have a point of view on the world, not a position in the category. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand what people are interested in and work back from there. </li></ul>Great ideas today are different.
  30. 43. “ Nobody reads advertising. People read what they want to read and sometimes it's an ad .” Howard Gossage “ Often our biggest mistake as managers is believing that, in general, customers care a lot about your brand. They do not.” Patrick Barwise
  31. 44. Not sure a gorilla playing a Phil Collins drum solo wins us the Dairy Milk account A text message from Laurence Green to Richard Flintham
  32. 45. 5 million views in 8 weeks Sales up 7%, 30% greater than industry average
  33. 51. <ul><li>Have a point of view on the world, not a position in the category. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand what people are interested in and work back from there. </li></ul><ul><li>Do stuff, don’t just say stuff. </li></ul>Great ideas today are different.
  34. 59. DO. Learn.
  35. 60. <ul><li>Have a point of view on the world, not a position in the category. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand what people are interested in and work back from there. </li></ul><ul><li>Do stuff, don’t just say stuff. </li></ul><ul><li>Do lots of things, not one thing. </li></ul>Great ideas today are different.
  36. 61. “ Any idea is dangerous if it’s a person’s only idea”* <ul><li>A culture full of depth and complexity </li></ul><ul><li>The rule of the 5% requires lots of matches to start a fire </li></ul><ul><li>Why not when the economics have changed? </li></ul>* George Will’s take on the American idea, Atlantic Monthly, November 2007
  37. 65. Coherency not consistency. Provide an uplifting experience that enriches people’s lives Source: John Grant, ‘The Brand Innovation Manifesto’ language, eg ‘skinny’ specials eg frappucino habits formation range and options ordering system starbucks company barista culture ‘ my sister’ book africa 05 social responsibility used grounds for gardeners fair trade coffee cause publicity in store sofas and ambience hearmusic Xm burn your own cd music cd in store performance and art book reading starbucks salon akelah and the bee
  38. 66. It’s about understanding distributed identity. Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google Search Google 411 Google Docs Google labs Google Shopping Google Scholar Google Books Google Maps Google sketch Google.Org Fossil fuel Challenge Youtube Chrome Browser Blogspot
  39. 67. The only big idea today is not to forget the little ones along the way.
  40. 69. Thank you Ed and Influx Insights for spotting this
  41. 71. High frequency. Low value. Semi-unpredictable rewards.
  42. 72. All this means how you design, create and evaluate ideas has to change.
  43. 73. <ul><li>Does it communicate? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it clear? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it likeable? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it engaging? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it replicable? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it magnetic? </li></ul><ul><li>Has it got depth? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it slippy and spreadable? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it participatory? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it generative? </li></ul>
  44. 74. Success will no longer come from sugar coating interruptions. It will come from making a positive cultural contribution.
  45. 75. Thanks.