A clever stratagem

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Ideas are not simply what we want people to think. They are about what we want them to do too.

*Please excuse any typos.

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A clever stratagem

  1. 1. A CleverStratagem
  2. 2. Or: Why I thinkthat the strategy is the idea.And why I think it has always been this way. But never just like today.
  3. 3. A little intro.Or what I mean when I say “strategy”.Thesaurus Dictionary definition of “ strategy” is “a plan of action”. Or, according to the MerriamWebster Dictionary, it means “a careful plan or method; a clever stratagem”.I like Webster’s definition better.You are going to read the word “strategy” quite a lot in this deck. Sometimes other familiar ex-pressions, most notably “consumer’s journey”, would probably be a more accurate choice. But I’vechosen to use “strategy” on purpose instead.I’ll tell you why:Some of the terms used in marketing and advertising often come with already a lot a baggage.Their meaning are so well known that sometimes it is difficult to look at them from a new angle.After all, these terms are used to facilitate the understanding of what we want to say. But maybenot in the case of this particular deck .My intention with this deck is to invite people to look at the creative work from a different per-spective, to show how a “clever stratagem” it’s an essential part of a creative idea. Or, to show howa well thought-out strategy can be a brilliant creative idea too.Of course here and there you will read “strategy” and it will have other related meanings like:media strategy, business strategy, marketing strategy, customer’s journey_ all those “strategy”meanings that we are all familiar with.Keep in mind that although some of these terms maybe be applicable to the text too, what I amreally talking about is about how a creative idea to be effective needs a “clever stratagem” . -3-
  4. 4. A pre-digital era memorable campaign.And the power of talking over the fence.According to Google, Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign was launched in 1988.The center of this campaign was an ideological statement that invited people to get out of theirconfortable zone and do. Oh, and of course, run to the store and buy Nike gear.This slogan quickly became part of pop culture. Curiously its inspiration came from serial killerGary Gilmore’s last words. Gilmore supposedly said: Let’s do it. But that’s just a bit of trivia cour-tesy of Wikipedia.“Just Do It” is an ideological slogan because it is a statement, a set of ideas that constitutes one’sgoals, expectation and actions. This is a powerful tool often used in politics and communication.“Just do i”t was so successful that it is now part of our common vocabulary.Although the “Just Do It” slogan invited people to do (work out, play, compete, buy sneakers…)the truth is that it was simply created to convey a brand ideology and differentiate Nike from itscompetitors.The truth is that phrase was so insightful, had such great timing addressing a contemporary feel-ing that it created an interaction that got people talking.That’s the essence of viral.Some footnote-type of information:According to Wikipedia viral are “buzzwords referring to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases inbrand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spreadof viruses or computer viruses.” It can be delivered by word of mouth or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. You see, viral actuallyis the basic tool of advertising: word of mouth, or getting people talk. Viral is very active in the sense that invites people to interact with a phraseand its meaning. That’s why it can easily be assimilated by pop culture. And when that happens it’s pretty much like when a sloganbecomes popular on the Internet. It takes over the world. -4-
  5. 5. Can we go back to the subject again?Yes, but no. Not yet, I mean.First let me tell you about my last holiday.My idea was to get to know more about places with very different art and culture.The first thing to do was to decide where I would like to go and then search the web for tips,flight and hotel information. I chose Rome, Berlin and Paris.Of course, if I wanted to know more about those places I could easily by a book about them.But it wouldn’t be as much fun as being there, right?Why? Because of the journey!People often say that one of the best parts of travelling is the planning. True. That’s because thejourney begins with the planning. It’s right to say too that the journey begins with the idea oftravelling. But what’s the idea without the experience? What’s the idea without the interaction?The journey in fact provokes more interactions. When I came back from my trip I couldn’t wait totell my friends about my experiences. I had lots of new “content”.Experiences is what we share with our friends after all, isn’t it? -5-
  6. 6. What David Ogilvy has to sayabout selling AGA cooker.And what does it have to do with what I am talking about.In 1935 David Ogilvy was selling Aga Cooker door-to-door in London. And that’s where and whenhe wrote the famous guide of how to sell the Aga Cooker, the Rolls Royce of cookers.As a salesman his goal was to remove the obstacles that kept him from selling more and morecookers. He excelled so much that he was invited to write a guide that ultimately would lead himto his first job in advertising. The rest is history.To me what is brilliant about this guide is that it is a perfect strategy contemplating ideas on plan-ning, creativity, and psychology…you name it! It is a journey into the sales experience and intothe consumer’s mind. Here is that word again: journey.The guide itself isn’t an idea because the truth is that it is simply a set of actions put on paper _with brilliant writing. David Ogilvy’s actual idea was to examine deep into the consumer’s mindand find out what move them. The guide was the result of this very successful experiment. -6-
  7. 7. Now let’s talk a bit about Digital.The greatest thing about Digital is that enables people to interact with content. When using socialmedia it can amplify any content. Think of the Digital/Social Network as you neighborhood.What you would tell your neighbor chatting over the fence is now done through Digital.And Digital it’s all about the experience.The truth is that technology only expanded what we, human beings, always wanted to do, or havealways been doing but now in a exponential way. Yes, the world became a global village. Or theworld has become a digital village.And this Digital village pretty much mirrors what society is all about.Welcome to Facebook! -7-
  8. 8. Ok, now is that part that you ask me:Where the hell are you going with it?Or: what’s your point?How much impact did this “Just Do It” catchy phrase have on the Nike’s 1988 campaign?What would this campaign be without the invitation inside this phrase?What would David Ogilvy’s idea of how to improve his sales performance be without his brilliantstrategy to do it?What would my idea of knowing more about the art and culture in the world be without thetravel planning and the actual experience of visiting those places?There are two important take-aways above:1) The viral element, the sharing and recommending (remember the talking over the fence?).2) The journey.Both are not passive. They are very active. Both lead to interaction. -8-
  9. 9. This is my point. At last.I’ve talked about a lot of things before:- First all statements are passive if there is not an interactive element in it.Nike’s “Just Do It” would be just another advertising campaign with a beautiful slogan if thatcatchy phrase didn’t have that invitation to action element in it. A very contemporary example ofa statement that had an active element in it is Obama’s “Yes We Can”. It did invited people to ac-tion while presenting an ideology. Because it was successful in inviting people into action it alsohad a powerful interactive and viral element.- My holiday trip started with an idea: let’s know more about the art and culture of places I don’tknow well _ actually Paris I know very well, but that’s not important.The first step was choosing the places I wanted to visit. Choosing a destination and planning atrip is the beginning of the trip itself. It is part of the overall experience. One once said that thedestination doesn’t matter, what matters in fact is the journey. This is true.- When David Ogilvy set out to improve his sales of the Rolls Royce of cookers, the Aga, he hadto design a strategy, a clever stratagem. And that strategy, with him being a salesperson, was howto persuade people to buy an Aga no matter what. The guide he wrote about it offered a journeyinto the mind of the consumer.Look at the elements above: strategy, journey, invitation to action and experience.Now bring technology into them, and what do you get?Boom! Here is the social network powered by digital.My point is that ideas are not simply what we want people to think.They are about what we want them to do too.Nike’s slogan, my holiday trip, Ogilvy’s Guide book, or even Obama slogan are great ideas (Iincluded my trip among them just to help the case) because they bring together a creative ideaand a strategy in a way that you cannot differentiate where one starts and the other ends. A greatrecipe for a successful journey.But is that all? -9-
  10. 10. Is it the campaign goal or the creative idea?Or: I knew someone would raise this question and here is what I have to say about it.A very simple business definition for an idea: “an idea is one single solution, plan or option whichmight solve a problem or fulfill a need. “One could say that the creative idea is a fresh and innovative way to approach a problem, a cre-ative plan.In the case of the Aga Cooker the problem was how to improve it sales. And David Ogilvy’s verycreative idea was to understand what went on the consumer’s mind and develop a sales plan andspeech that could remove any obstacles that kept him from closing a deal.The creative idea to solve the problem was to find a clever stratagem.Nike’s campaign goal was to build Nike’s brand image, and ultimately to sell more Nike gear.To achieve that Nike’s people realized that they needed to create a powerful advertising campaignthat could set them apart them from their competitors. They needed to tell people what Nike wasabout: If you are a ”Just Do It” type of person you are one of us therefore nothing in the worldcan stop you from buying Nike products.It is a good example of a traditional advertising campaign from a recent past.Having a catchy phrase that would get people talking is what all ad campaigns ever dreamed of.That was the most powerful tool of that time. It always been this way. And still is.The difference is that technology gave us “people talking” on acid.In short, to in order to build Nike’s “Just do It” brand image the campaign goal was to get peo-ple’s attention, set Nike’s image apart from the competition, and get people talking about.Get people talking is the campaign goal of any campaign in history.No brand of today should desire only to have consumers buying its products. Consumers must talkabout the brand, they must be activated by it, they must play with and interact with it.Going back to the subject:Nike’s 1988 campaign goal was to get people talking about the brand. “Just Do It” was the sloganthat invited people to this interaction.Today we know that what made it a successful campaign was that trigger element in the phrase“Just Do It”. Therefore we can say that interaction made it successful. - 10 -
  11. 11. Another very cool campaign.Whopper sacrifice!Yes, that brilliant idea for Burger King.What would I do to for a burger?That’s the idea, and the approach was simple and daring:Give up ten of your so-called Facebook friends and earn a free burger.Clever strategy. It hit the core of what social network is all about with a brilliant contemporaryinsight: I probably have tones of friends on Facebook that I don’t interact with and I would easilytrade them for a burger.Very good example of how the creative idea is all about the strategy. It invited people to do some-thing, to experience what the creative idea has proposed.I guess I’ve already said that, right? - 11 -
  12. 12. Can we really separate those ideas from their strategy?I have to say no.What is more important in Ogilvy’s guide: the copy or the strategy?The thing is that any advertising message one way or the other always invited people into action.Some of them successfully, others not, some more passive and others more actively.The difference today is that this invitation to action, to engage with the message is automatically.It’s a click away. It’s a click away of offering a real experience, a journey.Like David Ogilvy’s Guide Book today every word, every invitation has to be strategically de-signed to get the right result. And the right result can be measured right at the spot, right after aclick. The get result we have to make people embark on this journey.When people talk about an idea, they actually talking about idea+strategy.The point is that obviously the campaign goal and the creative idea are two different things.But when we talk about results in a era when consumer have unlimited ways experience brandedcontent, that offers never seen before efficient measuring tools, what we are really saying howwe get people talking, what’s the strategy to achieve that is a very important part, sometimes eventhe core, of a creative idea.A creative idea has always a clever stratagem behind it. - 12 -
  13. 13. From creative team to concept team.Journeys, clever stratagems and concepts.Not long ago a copywriter and an art director working together was called a creative team.A lot of other talents work together with them: illustrators, designers, producers, etc…Then with the Internet arrival another talented people joined in: motion graphics designers, ar-chitects, programmers, and many others.Now the apps and social networks have arrived.All of sudden advertising spots where fighting for consumer’s attention with content producedbuy the consumers themselves. And this battle the creative team will inevitably lose. People havemore tools to produce and deliever their own content every day.There is a powerful trend in advertising that show that the advertising traditional model willprobably transit to a more publishing-like model.In the digital/social network era, creative people at advertising agencies will have to think about“clever stratagems” to engage people on a brand journey. But they will become editors too. Toget consumers attention and get them talking about a brand one not only have to learn how toengage people, but one has to learn to edit what is already out there in the internet. Recom-mendation, sharing, giving testimonial are all very important content that can be part of a brandcommunication. They are also very important tools.But there’s more:It’s the job of the creative people of today to think about innovation too. This innovation can bein the form of an app, or a interactive piece at event, or even an art-like installation. Sometimeseven a new product.To me the traditional creative team is now transiting to a concept team.Think of a group of people working together to solve a briefing. This group of people woulddefinitely have an art director and copywriter working together. But they also need the preciouscompany of a planner, a media/digital strategist and probably a geek. If they aren’t all geeks.And all of them to certain extend will have to have some knowledge of each other’s skills.To me the goal of these people brainstorming together will be to deliver a concept.Concept generally means a notion, the content of cognition; the main thing you are thinkingabout. But concept philosophically can mean an idea too, the conjunction of all the characteristicfeatures of something. A bigger thought, even bigger than the big idea perhaps.As I wrote before, the creative work and the “clever stratagem” cannot be taken apart one fromthe other. The result of this combination is what triggers people into a journey. The choice ofwhat journey _ and how it wil happen _ it’s the concept. - 13 -
  14. 14. Or at least, this is my idea about ideas. - 14 -
  15. 15. São Paulo, August 2011

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