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Big Data vs. Creativity
 

Big Data vs. Creativity

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The debate is on: Should Creativity be driven by Big Data or supported by Big Data?

The debate is on: Should Creativity be driven by Big Data or supported by Big Data?

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  • For it is perhaps no exaggeration to suggest that the general state of knowledge within the average creative agency as to, is riddled with rhetoric, superstition, assumption, and unexamined received wisdom.This lack of understanding can hold  us back.  It can make us and our creative output hostage to the assumptions and prejudices of others. It can render us unable to make an informed and persuasive counterargument to some of the sillier things that creative is asked to accomplish.  Worst of all, it can undermine the effectiveness of our efforts.
  • Our ignorance or superstition notwithstanding, when it comes to the patterns and the nature of choice and preference, the structure and dynamics of markets and the mechanics of brand growth, the knowledge of How Things Work is plentiful. Indeed the body of evidence stretches back a full fifty years to the pioneering work of Professor Andrew Ehrenberg.That body of evidence continues to be developed and expanded today by others – in particular the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science at the University of South Australia, and the Ehrenberg Center for Research in Marketing at the London South Bank University. Yet while the work and its implications has had the public endorsement of the IPA, it would seem, it has yet to fully permeate the walls and minds of the creative community.In part this may be because of the gulf that still separates academia and practitioners. Some divide of course is natural and to be expected. The critical theorist and the Hollywood film director after all, will in all likelihood occupy different professional milieus, have different preoccupations and probably speak a different language.  
  • Our ignorance or superstition notwithstanding, when it comes to the patterns and the nature of choice and preference, the structure and dynamics of markets and the mechanics of brand growth, the knowledge of How Things Work is plentiful. Indeed the body of evidence stretches back a full fifty years to the pioneering work of Professor Andrew Ehrenberg.That body of evidence continues to be developed and expanded today by others – in particular the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science at the University of South Australia, and the Ehrenberg Center for Research in Marketing at the London South Bank University. Yet while the work and its implications has had the public endorsement of the IPA, it would seem, it has yet to fully permeate the walls and minds of the creative community.In part this may be because of the gulf that still separates academia and practitioners. Some divide of course is natural and to be expected. The critical theorist and the Hollywood film director after all, will in all likelihood occupy different professional milieus, have different preoccupations and probably speak a different language.  
  • We might like to think that the purpose of marketing is to transform people into devoted followers of our brands, but most people are not exclusive loyalists. Brands aren’t composed of mutually exclusive tribes of buyers.The reality is that people are are very happy to buy regularly from a range of brands. And this is reflected in buying patterns. Thus, brands share their customers with other brands – and they do so roughly in line with their market share. 
  • So while people are habitual and they do have loyalties, they’re polygamous in their habits, dividing their loyalty across a number of brands.  Very few consumers are 100% loyal to a brand. People who buy Nike also buy Adidas, and people who buy Coca-Cola also buy Pepsi.No category or brand escapes this phenomenon. In other words, loyalty is much more like an open marriage than one characterized by unwavering monogamy and devotion. 
  • But the fans or heavy buyers of a brand buy more, some of you might say. Trues, heavy buyers by their very nature do buy disproportionately more than the average buyer of a brand.
  • Irrespective of the brand or category we find that there just aren’t that many of them. They’re in the minority. Contrary to received wisdom, the vast bulk of any brand’s user base is composed of light buyers.
  • Irrespective of the brand or category we find that there just aren’t that many of them. They’re in the minority. Contrary to received wisdom, the vast bulk of any brand’s user base is composed of light buyers. The average annual purchase frequency of Pantene in the US is just 1.8. While most people buy a brand only occasionally, it’s because there are so many of these light buyers that there are the real life blood of a brand’s revenues. Asking to increase purchase frequency by “just” one more purchase in a year doesn’t sound much. But when most peop0le don’t buy any given brand that often, this can amount to a very big purchase increase. In the case of Pantene, it amounts to an increase of 55.6% in purchase behavior. Putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes, that represents a very significant change in behaviors.This is why increasing purchase frequyency is so much harder than most marketers think. And why we see that marketing which seeks to increase penetration (i.e. acquire new buyers) is significantly more effective than marketing which seeks to increase loyalty amongst existing buyers.
  • One of the most persistent myths is that some brands are a bit special. We like to characterize them as being like religions, cults or tribes. We deem them to be iconic or call them passion brands. We argue that they cultivate a devoted following of loyal and unwavering fans. Even that they command loyalty beyond reason;. Except they don’t They’re not that much different from any other brand. People are not loyal to brands.
  • Irrespective of the brand or category we find that there just aren’t that many of them. They’re in the minority. Contrary to received wisdom, the vast bulk of any brand’s user base is composed of light buyers. The average annual purchase frequency of Pantene in the US is just 1.8. While most people buy a brand only occasionally, it’s because there are so many of these light buyers that there are the real life blood of a brand’s revenues. Asking to increase purchase frequency by “just” one more purchase in a year doesn’t sound much. But when most peop0le don’t buy any given brand that often, this can amount to a very big purchase increase. In the case of Pantene, it amounts to an increase of 55.6% in purchase behavior. Putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes, that represents a very significant change in behaviors.This is why increasing purchase frequyency is so much harder than most marketers think. And why we see that marketing which seeks to increase penetration (i.e. acquire new buyers) is significantly more effective than marketing which seeks to increase loyalty amongst existing buyers.
  • Irrespective of the brand or category we find that there just aren’t that many of them. They’re in the minority. Contrary to received wisdom, the vast bulk of any brand’s user base is composed of light buyers. The average annual purchase frequency of Pantene in the US is just 1.8. While most people buy a brand only occasionally, it’s because there are so many of these light buyers that there are the real life blood of a brand’s revenues. Asking to increase purchase frequency by “just” one more purchase in a year doesn’t sound much. But when most peop0le don’t buy any given brand that often, this can amount to a very big purchase increase. In the case of Pantene, it amounts to an increase of 55.6% in purchase behavior. Putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes, that represents a very significant change in behaviors.This is why increasing purchase frequyency is so much harder than most marketers think. And why we see that marketing which seeks to increase penetration (i.e. acquire new buyers) is significantly more effective than marketing which seeks to increase loyalty amongst existing buyers.
  • In any category brands don’t differ very much in terms of how much loyalty they get. Big brands get ever so slightly more loyalty than smaller brands. But the big difference between brands is biw how loyal their customers are. But how many customers they have. Success is driven by scale. Not love.
  • This might make us distinctly uncomfortable. After all many of us like to believe that people really appreciate, like, and are interested in the fruits of all our hard work. People are just not that much into our work. And we need to face up to it. Because while this understanding may not give any of us a warm, cozy feeling, pursuing its consequences is more likely to make us wealthy than ignoring it.
  • So most people aren’t devoted to any brand. People are habitual and do have loyalties. But they have divided loyalties, purchasing from a variety of brands.All this reminds us that most people out there in the real world – that is, people who don’t devote their entire day thinking about them – don’t regard learning about brands as very important and really aren’t that into them.
  • All of us have acquired major knowledge about brands, but normal people don’t study brands. The other half of a brand’s knowledge is spread thinly across 80% of its customer base. And of course when non-users of the brand (but users of the category) are included in the analysis the pattern becomes even more pronounced.
  • Just looking at Facebook’s stats, we see that less than 0.5% of Facebook fans engage with the brand the are fans of. Studying 200 brands, only one showed a level of engagement over 2%, and only 10% of brand reached the mark.
  • Brands depend on the interest and purchase of the many more people who don’t know your brand well, aren’t devoted to your brand, and don’t purchase your brand at all, or that often. These indifferent people will have fewer memories of your brand, are less likely to think of your brand in buying and consumption situations. They may not even know what you product looks like. Or even where to buy you.
  • While technology gives us all new ways of deepening engagement and extending interaction with a campaign, when it comes to growing brands the far less fashionable (but far more valuable) dimension of reach still matters.Simply put, anything we do must scale. We must find ways of connecting big populations not just niche audiences and communities with our creative content. Creativity’s role is to achieve big effects.
  • In the marketing world, we hear a lot about fans. Aligning the idea of the fan with reach helps put this consumer into proper perspective. We can treat fans as creative collaborators, noisy advocates, and distribution channels. But they are actors in our content, not its ultimate audience. Their participation is merely niche marketing unless it is overheard and witnessed by the mainstream. This demands that we must find ways of enabling the enthusiasm of our fans to spill over into the populations who are less interested, whether it is through the nature of the creative content itself or the channel and distribution plan that feeds and surrounds it.
  • Understanding the nature of people’s purchase habits puts the significance of brands into their proper context. For while we in marketing and adland spend the vast bulk of our waking lives thinking about brands and communications, just because it’s important to us doesn’t mean that it is equally important to people in the outside world. We can talk all day long about the personal, psycholigical, social and cultural role of brands but what the data teaches us is that the real We can talk all we want about the personal, psychological, social, and cultural role of brands, but what the data teaches us is that the real audience for our efforts consists of people who don’t know our brand very well (or at all), aren’t devoted to our brand, or don’t purchase it at all.  They will have few memories and associations for us to build upon, they aren’t very likely to notice our advertising, nor are they likely to think of our brand in buying and consumption situations.These people are a far cry from the enthusiastic, devoted, active fan. Who cares about what we do. And who may even want to get involved themselves. No. These people – the vast majority of any category’s buyers – aren’t enthusiastic. Or involved. They’re generally indifferent.
  • We shouldn’t be put off by the the indifference of the masses. Quite the opposite. For while it’s arguably a crueler, more unforgiving world out there than the comforting rhetoric of ‘engagement’ suggests, none of this should prompt fits of morbid anxiety or professional self-doubt.  For it demands that our work be extraordinary. Creativity of any kind after all needs some form of resistance to ignite and inspire it, whether that’s the resistance of materials, media, form, genre or inherited expectations and practices. And so just as the engraver needs the resistance of the plate, we need the recognition that most people in the real world just aren’t that interested. 
  • This, not attention, is the real barrier to our success. And that’s a far, far bigger hurdle to conquer.  As Jim Carroll of BBH has written, “Surely we can turn apathy, ennui and boredom into a positive force, a force for good. Would not an honest acceptance of the diminished role a brand or category plays in consumers’ lives encourage us to think harder about utility, experience and reward?”It doesn’t take that much for creativity to please a devoted customer. They’re more likely to notice your advertising than non-customers.  They’re receptive to content that justifies their existing purchase behaviours and preferences.But it takes a lot more if it is to capture the imaginations of those many more who don’t have strong feelings about us.  The story in the data is quite clear. In the battle against indifference, mediocrity has no role. Commercial success demands a very great deal from creativity.
  • Allied to the myth of loyalty is the myth that the purpose of marketing and communications to persuade people and convert them to our brand. In fact in some quarters, the belief is that advertising is by its very nature, persuasion.This isn’t a helpful perspective. It feeds that idea that advertising exerts a ‘strong’ force on people’s behaviours – that it ‘makes’ people do things. And in doing so, it feeds the belief that advertising must contain persuasive messages – or winning arguments. It encourages short-termism (surely the scourge of all marketing) – persuasion is after all, immediate and lasting or it is nothing. And it legitimizes the prejudices and practices of those walking dinosaurs – the copytesters.
  • Next only to military language, marketing is riddled quasi-religious concepts and language. We talk of converts and followers. Zealots, belief, and devotion. We single out some lucky brands to be ‘icons’ that somehow transcend the ordinary, grubby world of markets and commerce. Like the military language that pervades marketing, it’s the language of conquest and ownership.There is no evidence that advertising works by converting or persuading.  Whether it’s born of hubris or ignorance of the facts, the notion of creating passionate, committed and unwavering consumer devotion is nothing more than a marketing fiction.
  • As Professor Ehrenberg et al pointed out many years ago, if consumers had been strongly persuaded in the past, “there would be many near-100% loyal customers for each successful brand, and they would be important to its sales.”  But as I’ve argued above, few people remain exclusively loyal to any one brand.  Brands are largely composed not of loyalists, but of light buyers who brand the brand  – as well as competing brands – occasionally. Which means there’s no such thing as ‘[insert brand] consumer.’ Just buyers of another brand who sometimes buy you.
  • As Professor Ehrenberg et al pointed out many years ago, if consumers had been strongly persuaded in the past, “there would be many near-100% loyal customers for each successful brand, and they would be important to its sales.”  But as I’ve argued above, few people remain exclusively loyal to any one brand.  Brands are largely composed not of loyalists, but of light buyers who brand the brand  – as well as competing brands – occasionally. Which means there’s no such thing as ‘[insert brand] consumer.’ Just buyers of another brand who sometimes buy you.
  • Brands share their customers with other brands, and do so more or less in line with market shares of those brands.  Put simply,  the buyers of any brand in a category are most likely to also buy the biggest brands in a given category. And they’re much less likely to also buy the smallest brands in the category. It’s what’s known as the ‘duplication of purchase’ law.Wendy Gordon has written of how marketers often like to imagine the consumer in permanent orbit around their brand. But the fact of the matter is that people are happily polygamous in their brand ‘relationships’ for the simple reason that the choice between one brand and another is not that important.
  • There’s one belief that’s guaranteed to hold back the develop of interesting, provocative, distinctive work, it’s the fear that it will ‘alienate’ a brand’s existing consumers. We’ve all heard the request: “We want work that attracts new buyers. BUT… it mustn’t alienate our current consumers.” And so what results invariably is work that holds back from doing anything toointeresting. From being too impactful, too stimulating. It results in the sort of work that aims squarely at the middle. At the average. Achieve the norm. But for heaven’s sake don’t exceed it too much. It will frighten people away.Now if you believe that your brand in some way ‘owns’ its consumers, that loyalty is all-important, that brands attract different kinds of people and that the task for marketing and communications is to ‘convert’ consumers away from competitors to our brand, then you would indeed be forgiven for worrying that in the quest to encourage new users to switch to your brand, marketing communications might alienate your existing consumer base.
  • But as we’ve seen, brands don’t ‘own’ any consumers. Nor are they built upon discreet, siloed, and loyal consumer bases that never interact with one another. The fact that buying one brand isn’t a barrier to buying any others – that all brands in any given category compete in a fairly predictable manner with each other, sharing their buyers with other brands should tell us that there’s little basis for worrying about ‘alienating’ consumers. And plenty of cause to be bold and courageous in our creative ambitions.For if you do work that’s interesting, relevant and useful and/or entertaining for non-users, it’s likely to be interesting, relevant and useful and/or entertaining for those people who are buying your brand. Or as Byron Sharp puts it, “being competitive means selling to ‘the market’, not a special segment.”
  • For if you do work that’s interesting, relevant and useful and/or entertaining for non-users, it’s likely to be interesting, relevant and useful and/or entertaining for those people who are buying your brand. Or as Byron Sharp puts it, “being competitive means selling to ‘the market’, not a special segment.”
  • The understanding that customers regularly buy from a repertoire of brands highlights the fact that advertising isn’t a ‘strong’ force that persuades and converts people.It doesn’t have to. Instead, advertising works as a weak force. It works by nudging existing buyers’ likelihood to keep buying it as one of several options. Or it nudges non-buyers people to add it as an extra item in their repertoire, or as a substitute. But this is usually more a case of trying out, of testing driving, or of novelty-seeking than some kind of Damascene act of conversion.
  • And of course competitor brands will be trying to do exactly the same thing.  And that means there will be an continuous need for active brand maintenance.  For as we’ve seen, people people know that brands in any given category are broadly similar and few have strong and unique attachments.Short-term thinking is one of the greatest scourges in marketing and communication. Understanding that the role of advertising is to keep nudging people, rather than convert them in a one-off act, reminds us that the real economic power of advertising is felt over the longer term.What all this means is that advertising is not a one-off cost, as some would treat it. It’s a long-term investment in the health of a brand. Buyer data teaches us to to think long-term.  And to invest in creativity over the long-term.
  • And of course competitor brands will be trying to do exactly the same thing.  And that means there will be an continuous need for active brand maintenance.  For as we’ve seen, people people know that brands in any given category are broadly similar and few have strong and unique attachments.Short-term thinking is one of the greatest scourges in marketing and communication. Understanding that the role of advertising is to keep nudging people, rather than convert them in a one-off act, reminds us that the real economic power of advertising is felt over the longer term.What all this means is that advertising is not a one-off cost, as some would treat it. It’s a long-term investment in the health of a brand. Buyer data teaches us to to think long-term.  And to invest in creativity over the long-term.
  • And of course competitor brands will be trying to do exactly the same thing.  And that means there will be an continuous need for active brand maintenance.  For as we’ve seen, people people know that brands in any given category are broadly similar and few have strong and unique attachments.Short-term thinking is one of the greatest scourges in marketing and communication. Understanding that the role of advertising is to keep nudging people, rather than convert them in a one-off act, reminds us that the real economic power of advertising is felt over the longer term.What all this means is that advertising is not a one-off cost, as some would treat it. It’s a long-term investment in the health of a brand. Buyer data teaches us to to think long-term.  And to invest in creativity over the long-term.
  • Allied to the myth of loyalty is the myth that the purpose of marketing and communications to persuade people and convert them to our brand. In fact in some quarters, the belief is that advertising is by its very nature, persuasion.This isn’t a helpful perspective. It feeds that idea that advertising exerts a ‘strong’ force on people’s behaviours – that it ‘makes’ people do things. And in doing so, it feeds the belief that advertising must contain persuasive messages – or winning arguments. It encourages short-termism (surely the scourge of all marketing) – persuasion is after all, immediate and lasting or it is nothing. And it legitimizes the prejudices and practices of those walking dinosaurs – the copytesters.
  • Brand image tracking is good at giving us the impression that brands are indeed different.But a key factor that distinguishes brands with high brand image scores is not the depth of the positive disposition towards the brand. Big brands simply have more users. And users are more likely to give any kind of response in these surveys.So what distinguishes big brands in these kinds of surveys is not the depth of brand equity, but simply the number of people who have any mental associations with the brand at all.Most people don’t know much about a brandAs we saw earlier, knowledge about a brand  – the root of any positioning – is not held uniformly by all buyers. A minority of a brand’s users account for half of brand knowledge, with the remainder spread thinly across the majority of its user base.In other words, while some people know a lot about a brand, most of a brand’s users  will know little. Which somewhat undermines the notions of brands having clear-cut positionings in people’s minds.
  • Positioning theory argues that brands must develop and maintain  points of differentiation and uniqueness. And who has not been in a strategy meeting which has centered around what our brand can ‘own’?  Yet the data repeatedly shows that if a characteristic matters in a category, it is shared by brands. Indeed, brands share characteristics more so than they exhibit marked differencesMost people don’t have fixed perceptions of brandsIf we were successful in creating clearly differentiated brands, we could expect to find that we were building enduring brand perceptions. That is, at an individual level what people think of a brand relative to its competitors would not vary dramatically over time.However, the kinds of surveys that monitor people’s brand perceptions tend to interview a different group of individuals with each wave of interviewing. And these give the illusion that an individual’s brand perceptions are generally fairly stable.But far from having fixed perceptions of brands, people’s views of brands are in fact very far from stable and vary across time.Repeat responses – that is the proportion of people attributing an image attribute to the same brand on subsequent interview occasions ranges between 40% to 60%.  And the 50% who do not give the same answer as last time associate the attribute with some other brand.
  • What this means is that we should stop thinking of brands as ‘things’ in people’s brains, etched in, permanent, and enduring. Rather, brands must be constructed and reconstructed each time from all the myriad of associations in the mind.And whether these associations are triggered and assembled is – like any memory – a matter of cues, circumstances, and indeed luck.All of which feels very far removed from the notion of creating enduring ‘positionings’ in people’s minds.
  • The argument for differentiation tells us that it makes it hard to substitute with other brands. And that as a result, well-differentiated brands enjoy a more loyal customer base. However, irrespective of the category one looks at, despite the rhetoric of fans, zealots, engagement and the like, loyalty levels in fact differ little between brands.Furthermore, people are polygamous in their loyalties.  People are quite happy to spread their purchases across competing brands – Nike buyers are happy to also buy Adidas, and Pepsi buyers are happy to also buy Coca-Cola.The purpose of differentiation – offering something that the competition does not – is surely to render brands non-substitutable.  But people quite clearly find competing brands to be acceptable substitutes.
  • So if positioning and differentiation isn’t the driver of purchase preference, then what is? Contrary to the theory of brand positioning, there is a good amount of evidence that suggest that people don’t have to think of a brand as being different to come to buy it.  They just have to think, feel and remember something about it at all. This has been characterized as brand ‘salience’ – or the creation of mental ‘presence’ or ‘availability’.It helps to think about salience as the ‘size’ of a brand in people’s minds. Being salient requires both quantity (how many) and quality (how fresh and relevant) of brand information in memory. It requires that this brand information be prominent in the memory, and that this memory content is easily accessed when triggered by purchase or consumption cues.In this way, salience drives the probability that in purchase and consumption a brand will be recalled early in a consumer’s consideration set, under a variety of purchase and consumption situations, via a variety of stimuli, and – since all brands must contend with the presence of competing brands – to the exclusion of other brands.
  • So if positioning and differentiation isn’t the driver of purchase preference, then what is? Contrary to the theory of brand positioning, there is a good amount of evidence that suggest that people don’t have to think of a brand as being different to come to buy it.  They just have to think, feel and remember something about it at all. This has been characterized as brand ‘salience’ – or the creation of mental ‘presence’ or ‘availability’.It helps to think about salience as the ‘size’ of a brand in people’s minds. Being salient requires both quantity (how many) and quality (how fresh and relevant) of brand information in memory. It requires that this brand information be prominent in the memory, and that this memory content is easily accessed when triggered by purchase or consumption cues.In this way, salience drives the probability that in purchase and consumption a brand will be recalled early in a consumer’s consideration set, under a variety of purchase and consumption situations, via a variety of stimuli, and – since all brands must contend with the presence of competing brands – to the exclusion of other brands.
  • Advertising claims (such as “The world’s favourite airline”) may appear to be promises of superiority, but in the light of people’s perceptions of brands and the fact that they still buy other brands as well, in reality they probably simply work as an interesting statement of category membership.
  • We can present the brand in some creatively memorable, yet often fairly meaningless way. Neither mints with holes nor meerkats are relevant or useful in making a purchase decision. But in the quest for salience, they do publicize, magnify and make interesting and memorable a truth about the brand or product (it’s got a hole in it, or it sort of rhymes with ‘market’).
  • We can appeal to the  emotions. Publicity can appeal to people’s emotions and values. It might not persuade anybody of anything, but it can be intensely memorable.
  • We can appeal to the  emotions. Publicity can appeal to people’s emotions and values. It might not persuade anybody of anything, but it can be intensely memorable.
  • We can give people a ‘reason’ to buy. There is advertising which ostensibly gives people a reason to buy. But again, how it appears to work may not be how it actually works. Thus, most drinkers are unlikely to believe that Carlsberg really is the best lager in the world or that Heineken really does refresh the parts other beers can’t reach. But as they point out, saying ‘Better’ or ‘Best’ keeps the brand in front of the public.
  • Don’t fear the genericThe generic gets a bad name. How many times has a strategy been rejected because it is ‘generic’ to the category, because it isn’t differentiated? Or ‘ownable’? But the truth of the matter is that brands really don’t ‘own’ anything at all. If it’s meaningful and relevant to people, other brands will own it too. The competition isn’t for difference. But for memory.And if brand salience is the propensity of the brand to be thought of (at all) in buying or consumption situations, we’ll need to spend more more time thinking about how we can transform what might have been dismissed as generic category motivations or undifferentiated product attributes into something truly interesting, memorable and of course attached to our brand.It’s what we do with the generic that makes the difference.  The scope for insight and imagination is bigger than the insistence that advertising works through ‘messaging’ allows.
  • As we’ve seen, differences in brand image will tend to be small.  But while they may not be sources of significant differentiation, they may give us valuable starting points for developing communication strategies rooted in truths and perceptions about the brand.So while they are be unlikely to be noticed by or to matter to consumers, even small differences can provide valuable creative fuel and inspiration.
  • In place of difference, we should be thinking of salienceIn place of creating deep affinity or love,  scaleAnd in place of effecting conversion, we should be thinking in terms of sustained nudging
  • If one had to reduce all this down to something, we might argue that we should be seeking to create and sustain momentum, energy, or dynamism for our brands.Resistance (invariably expressed as indignation rather than reasoned argument) is to be expected. The idea that intimacy has not supplanted the necessity for reach will undoubtedly unnerve those in thrall to the twin metaphors of brand-as-person and brand-as-relationship. Not least of all because it challenges both the industry of marketing advice books, and our own sense of virtue, value, and significance. And the idea that advertising is a ‘weak’ force will surely disappoint those who’d prefer marketing to be a more powerful, macho affair.  Or who still believe that people are rational and advertising’s workings logical and linear.
  • Yet the truth of the matter is that none of this is a new discovery. The best advertising has always worked in this way. But most advertising isn’t good. Let alone great. Consciously or unconsciously it  assumes its role to bludgeon the consumer into submission.  It tries to argue the consumer into purchase.   It tries – with varying degrees of heavy-handedness – to reason the hapless audience into some kind of Damascene-like conversion. It has no interest in speaking to what interests the consumer. Its starting point is itself, rather than the passions, concerns and inclinations of its audience. It is, I suspect, born a prisoner of marketing superstition, labouring under over a century of inherited and ill-informed ‘wisdom’.
  • And today we can add a new category of failed marketing.  That which is so in love with the idea of the customer as a ‘fan’, fixated on notions of intimacy and the new ways we can connect people to our ideas that it forgets the older but still powerful concept of reach.Technology has changed everything about our world. And nothing at all. The fundamentals of human nature have not changed. Similarly, the dynamics of brands, and markets have not changed.
  • Technology has changed everything about our world. And nothing at all. The fundamentals of human nature have not changed. Similarly, the dynamics of brands, and markets have not changed. So whatever else might have changed, the fundamentals of marketing communications remain:
  • If we – as both clients and agencies – are to stimulate great creativity that works, then this is an agenda we need to take seriously, and to heart.We have got to start letting go of our reliance on unhelpful metaphors, accommodate ourselves to the fact that brands really don’t matter that much to people in the real world, and get to grips the data that matters, not merely the data that’s easy to monitor.
  • Ever since Ernest Dichter introduced the world to the notion of brands having unique personalities, we have been an industry in thrall to the metaphor of ‘relationship’. The language of ‘commitment’, ‘community’, ‘bonding’, ‘relationship’, ‘passion’ and even (most bafflingly of all) ‘love’, are hard to escape for long.The language we choose matters because it not only reveals our patterns of thought, but because it actually shapes our expectations, perceptions, and behaviours. And this kind of language is the language of commitment, of long-term relationships. It’s the language of steady partners and marriages. Some take it further and insist that brands can actually inspire love in people.
  • Perhaps this language is attractive because it gives us the feeling that we are not in the grubby business of selling people anything, but rather in the wonderful, nurturing business of creating warm and loving relationships.
  • Aristotle believed there to be three types of friendship: those of pleasure, those of usefulness, and true friendship. If we’re going to insist on the metaphor of relationship, let’s at least be clear what kind of relationship it is.“Those who love each other for their utility,” Aristotle maintained, “do not love each other for themselves but in virtue of some good which they get from each other.”The metaphor of a relationship based on utility obviously has applicability to marketingland. Both parties are seeking gain. The consumer the satisfaction of his or her needs and wants. And the brand owner money in return for satisfying them.The metaphor of friendships of pleasure too has some pertinence to how we use and experience brands. Whether our favourite brand of ice-cream is HaagenDaz or Ben & Jerry’s, we’re unlikely  to worry whether our pleasure and gratification has been reciprocated.  What matters is that pleasure was taken.But beyond this, we should beware lest our metaphor run out of control. We cannot afford for the language and practice of of ‘interaction’, ‘participation’, ‘community’ and so on lead us to mistake metaphor for fact, and with it the degree of attachment people feel towards brands.
  • Let us not pretend that people’s interactions with the tangibles and intangibles of brands even begin to approximate the nature of our most meaningful relationships. For overestimating the depth of people’s involvement with brands takes our eyes off where both current and future sales revenue comes from. And our jargon fails us if it leads us to forget that the primary task of communications is not stoking the fires of passion amongst fans, but nudging the behaviour of the largely indifferent.
  • Our work as in communications is for nothing unless it stimulates a response.  And in this, our greatest obstacle is not attention, but interest. Yet as the fantasy writer Joan Vinge has written: “Indifference is the strongest force in the universe.  It makes everything meaningless. Love and hate don’t stand a chance against it.” Similarly, in a speech he gave at the White House in 1999, the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel said: “Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end.”Given that thinking about brands consumes the majority of our waking lives, it is perhaps not surprising that we would want to think and believe that the output of our endeavours is of  very great interest to the people to whom we seek to appeal. Indeed the line of argument and rhetoric goes as far as to argue that we are capable of evoking love for our brands in the minds of our audience.Yet while this notion might see us through the long working day, the behavioural data speaks loud and clear.  Irrespective of the category we examine, we see that the vast majority of buyers are in fact not loyal to a single brand.  Devoted loyalty – borne of the belief that other brands just aren’t as good, or just aren’t the same – does not exist. Instead, consumers are perfectly happy to buy from a repertoire of brands.The conclusion from this is inescapable. If people treat brands as more or less substitutable, then their choice of brand cannot not matter that much to them.  This is reflected in brand image data – for strip away the effects of both usage and prototypicality, and we see that brands really are not that much different from each other.
  • Of course we’ve been measuring brand image for decades. But today we have many more things we can count. Searches, likes, visits, page views, forwarding, referring, clicking, friending, +1-ing, playing, reading, posting, printing, downloading, opening promotional e-mails, completing a survey, blogging, reviewing, recommending, rating, creating, discussing, uploading, joining a group, installing a widget, downloading an app, bookmarking, subscribing, posting, watching
  • The data holds implications not just for our creative product, but for how we evaluate it. For if brand image doesn’t change dramatically over the long-term, if the differences between brands are more often than not minimal, and if the big shifts in brand image are more likely to be driven by expanding the user base than by the effects of communications then surely we must question the scale of investment that goes into monitoring these differences and movements. And we should surely subject to a little more scrutiny demands that we be held accountable to key performance indicators asking for significant shifts in brand image or ‘equity’.Rather than continue to insist on tinkering with brand image data of questionable value, perhaps we should be devoting more of our investment and energies into exploring how we might begin to measure salience. Given that it is by its very nature a complex, multi-dimensional construct and works at point of purchase or consumption, devising a useful and accurate methodology would be more than a little challenging.  But perhaps one that the research industry might more seriously want to address if its methodologies are to be properly reflective of how people actually behave, choose, and buy.
  • Never in the course of human history have our daily habits, interactions, interests, desires,  distractions and behaviours left behind them such a trail of evidence and data.
  • Many of these things are easy to identify. Many of them require no research investment to monitor. And they are often highly response  – and easily attributable – to communications activity.  Not surprisingly we like to count them. What agency case study has not trumpeted seemingly impressive social media numbers?
  • But if we’re to be credible solvers of our clients’ business challenges, and not mere execution vendors (and thus peripheral and undervalued) then we are going to finally have to reconcile ourselves to the imperative that we must spend as much time with purchase and consumption data as we do with all the newer metrics we now have at our disposal. Media data is but one – albeit vital – part of the picture.Our task after all, is not merely the achievement of communications exposure and interaction, but the shaping of preference and behaviour. Since it is that, which is the ultimate driver of our clients’ short- and longtermcashflows.
  • So by all means let’s monitor the new data sources and flows. But anybody who believes they shape communications strategy and cannot grasp that our task is helping our clients make money, who finds shopper data too tedious to bother with, who doesn’t know how to make sense of say, a Nielsen or TNS report, and who cannot grasp the difference between counting and analysis should be asked to leave our profession.  They are peddlers of bimbo strategies, bring the rest of us into disrepute, and limit our room for creative maneuver. 
  • The
  • The opportunity that this perspective opens up is vast. Instead of the deadening and stifling assumptions that we must ‘persuade’ people, that they’re looking for ‘reasons to believe’, that we must offer something that ‘differentiates’ us from the competition, we are now set upon a properly imaginative journey, to find what is interesting, exciting and memorable that (crucially) we can connect in the memory with our brand.
  • So we should embrace the magic that is at the heart of so much of what we do. For we are not hidden ‘persuaders’. Or even partially glimpsed persuaders.
  • So we should embrace the magic that is at the heart of so much of what we do. For we are not hidden ‘persuaders’. Or even partially glimpsed persuaders.
  • So we should embrace the magic that is at the heart of so much of what we do. For we are not hidden ‘persuaders’. Or even partially glimpsed persuaders.
  • So we should embrace the magic that is at the heart of so much of what we do. For we are not hidden ‘persuaders’. Or even partially glimpsed persuaders.
  • So we should embrace the magic that is at the heart of so much of what we do. For we are not hidden ‘persuaders’. Or even partially glimpsed persuaders.
  • So we should embrace the magic that is at the heart of so much of what we do. For we are not hidden ‘persuaders’. Or even partially glimpsed persuaders.
  • We never we were in the persuasion business. Nor are we in the ‘message’ business.  We are publicists. And our true contribution lies in the transformation of the generic, the un-ownable, and the otherwise meaningless into something compelling, interesting, memorable, and yes, useful for consumers.  And if that’s not magic, it’s hard to know what is.\
  • We never we were in the persuasion business. Nor are we in the ‘message’ business.  We are publicists. And our true contribution lies in the transformation of the generic, the un-ownable, and the otherwise meaningless into something compelling, interesting, memorable, and yes, useful for consumers.  And if that’s not magic, it’s hard to know what is.\

Big Data vs. Creativity Big Data vs. Creativity Presentation Transcript

  • Advertising: Science or Magic?
  • “Magic is the sole science not accepted by scientists, because they can‟t understand it.”
  • “To those brands that say „I understand you‟ I say „Fuck off, you don‟t understand me. Mind your own business, I don‟t want to be understood by you. I don‟t understand myself sometimes. It can be fun.” John Hegarty, BBH
  • “Big Data will enable brand marketers to genuinely understand, measure the impact of, and effectively targeted investments against their efforts to engage in social; and this allocate meaningful brand marketing dollars to social engagement initiatives amplified by paid media support.” Jeff Dachis, Dachis Group
  • Medicine Urban Planning The Internet of Things Security Elections
  • Big Data and Advertising
  • We‟ve come a long way
  • Digital Marketing: Finally, everything can be measured!
  • You are more likely to complete NAVY SEAL training than click a banner ad
  • Damn!
  • Are we heading in the right direction?
  • How should advertising utilize Big Data?
  • Fact is, our general state of knowledge is based on wrong assumptions and superstition
  • Surprisingly, the structure and dynamics of markets and the mechanics of brand growth have been known since the 60‟s.
  • We should base our decisions on science, not on gut feelings or favorable associations with either side
  • Myth #1 The purpose of marketing is to create and sustain devoted love amongst consumers of our brand
  • Most people aren‟t devoted to brands
  • Even Germans aren‟t devoted to German beer
  • More of a habit than loyalty
  • Fans matter less than we think • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • There are just not enough fans of your brand to go around • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • The vast bulk of any brand‟s user base is composed of light buyers. • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Brands don‟t get above average loyalty • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • People are loyal to family • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • People are loyal to friends • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • People aren‟t loyal to brands. Repeat purchases are driven by scale. Not love. • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats We wish
  • • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats Reality: An overwhelming indifference
  • • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats Most people aren‟t that into brands
  • • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats People are not avid students of brands
  • Most people are not interested engaging with brands • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • We have to go beyond simply thinking in terms of engaging most loyal customers • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Reach has not been replaced by depth and intimacy • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Fans are actors, not the audience • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Indifference demands the extraordinary • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Advertising needs to be extraordinary • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • In the battle against indifference, mediocrity has no role • TBD
  • Myth #2 We are in the persuasion business
  • The notion of persuading/converting people into passionate and committed consumer devotees is nothing more than fiction • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • There are no brand consumers, just buyers of another brand who sometimes buy you • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • There are no brand consumers, just buyers of another brand who sometimes buy you • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • People are happily polygamous in their brand relationships because brand choices for them are not that important • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • If it‟s interesting, it will be interesting to anyone. Don‟t fear to alienate current customers • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Your creative ambitions should be bold and courageous • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Being competitive means selling to the market, not a special segment • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Advertising is in the nudging business, not the persuasion business • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • We try to convert people in one-off acts. • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • The real economic power of advertising is felt over the long term • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • The real power of advertising is to keep nudging people • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Myth #3 The primary goal of communication is to create differentiation and provide winning arguments
  • Bigger brands have more people with mental associations with the brand overall • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Most people don‟t have fixed perceptions of brands • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Brands are mind associations • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Brand positioning doesn‟t lead to exclusive relationships • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • What matters is the size of a brand in people‟s minds. You don‟t need to be remembered as different, you need to be remembered at all • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Mental presence of the brand: Information has to be prominent in the memory, easily accessed when triggered by purchase or consumption cues • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Could be an interesting statement of category membership • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • You can be creatively memorable, yet fairly meaningless. • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Appeal to emotions • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Appeal to intellect and emotion • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Nobody believes this claim but it becomes a brand association • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Brands don‟t own anything
  • Treat difference as a jumping off point
  • What we know - Scale not Love - Nudging - Building associations
  • We need to challenge our own sense of virtue, value, and significance
  • Let‟s face it: Most advertising is not good, trying to argue the consumer into purchase
  • The new era of failed marketing
  • Technology has changed everything. And nothing at all
  • Be Interesting Be Memorable Scale It Sustain It
  • Metaphors matter
  • Who wants to sell to people when you can create loving relationships?
  • 3 types of friendships: Pleasure Usefulness Friendship
  • Not stoking the fires of passion amongst fans, but nudging the behavior of the largely indifferent
  • Our greatest obstacle is not attention, but interest.
  • Are we measuring too many things?
  • Are we measuring the right things?
  • The data trail continues to increase
  • We love to count the wrong numbers
  • Are you trying to achieve communications exposure and interaction or shaping of preference and behavior?
  • The difference between counting and analysis
  • “The hallmark of good advertising? Making distinctive and memorable publicity for the brand out of next to nothing.” A. Ehrenberg
  • We need to find what‟s interesting, exciting and memorable that connect in the memory with our brand • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Big Data is not the wheel. Big Data is just a spoke in the wheel • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • “All things are made of atoms, and (…) Everything that lving things do can be understood in terms of the jiggling and wiggling of atoms.” - Richard Feynmann, Theoretical physicist • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Really? • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • RIP Mad Men Rely on your creativity to achieve your goals. And optimize around that goal with relevant data • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Ensure that each iteration of the idea represents one side building off of the other‟s previous concept. • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Embrace the magic • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Advertising‟s objective: Transforming the generic and un- ownable into something compelling, memorable and useful • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Isn‟t that magic? • Big Data headlines • Infographics • Stats
  • Advertising: Magic supported by science