Great vs. Good


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A speech written for the Miami Ad School in Europe - given on July 29th, 2010. The subject is Great vs. Good and why "Good" is the bad guy.

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  • I’ll admit upfront that there’s some bias. Particularly, for me - to Goodby Silverstein - it was a great place to work at and I believe it produces some of the best work in the world. That used to be about TV campaigns, but now they’re the integrated champions worldwide. Although you cannot ignore Crispin (Bogusky leaving) and Wieden’s. Plus others...
  • This ad aired in 1967. But it would work today - I’ve never seen such an emotive product demo in my life - and I still love it today. Ignore the production (and reproduction) quality, and that ad would be just as powerful today as it was then. It’s a landmark of greatness.
  • It may polarise on occasion, but great is normally pretty hard to disagree with. It’s part of what separates great from everything else. It’s undeniable.
  • Great grabs technologies and bends them to it’s own will.
  • Great can be pretty surprising
  • Or just phenomenally useful
  • But great is You have to live up to it - “We’re for dogs” is great, but once you start to water that down by talking food too much, you begin to lose it again
  • Great can be embedded in products to make them even more useful or more entertaining. In this case, they made the product more eco, by training the driver.
  • This site is recent, but it’s a packed with great for my money - in a world of static shots of clothing, Wrangler suddenly created a story and movement. That’s a dollop of greatness right there.
  • Now, you’ve probably heard this one - but I don’t know if you’ve seen the whole case study and some of the details in here are superb.
  • It’s a compelling case. And the next iteration is out later this year, so watch out for what they do next - it will be interesting if it lives up to itself.
  • Google may be your idea of privacy invasion - or it may be the site you see every day. But it’s undeniably great.
  • Lost redefined TV. You can say that 24 took the movie mentality to TV, but I think that Lost really set the trend for big budget productions on TV shows.
  • Music’s obvious, but it’s littered with greatness. And plenty that doesn’t quite hit great too.
  • The Simpsons is the longest running prime-time TV show in the US. It first aired in 1989 - over 21 years ago.
  • Obama’s campaign is now legend - the use of digital, the tools he gave young supporters, the message he broadcast.
  • This is an obvious one. But stop and think for a moment - wasn’t the iPhone perfection?
  • At least, right up until the iPhone 4 came out. Aerial issue or not, this is great.
  • This one’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But I love it. A fuddy, irrelevant, old brand like Old Spice giving us a very different take from Axe. Same basic thought, but a great twist.
  • Although it’s not half as successful as the more recent campaign for the Man your man could smell like. I believe the “responses” viral is getting more hits per week than any viral has ever achieved. Let’s see if it can beat the Evian babies...
  • I’m not going to get into the debate as to whether “great” creative work works. I’ll leave it to the findings of the IPA to give you some basic reassurance that it’s all a worthy endeavour! Although here are two cases that give you a glimpse of “value” beyond spend...
  • Evian you’ll have seen - after all, it’s in the Guinness Book of records for being the most viewed viral film to date. What interested me was that it was a viral film for a long time before it aired on TV. And that just prompted even more online viewings.
  • This is mean to use an example, but I think we have to remember that “great” doesn’t repeat itself automatically - even if all the same people are involved. You have to earn it. And, frankly, even “trucks” is better than a lot of work out there!
  • A strange use of words, but Got Milk? is such a potent idea that it’s spawned numerous ads, online, everything. It’s even parodied around the US in everything from advertising to lost cat notices.
  • The Axe effect, similarly, leaves you in no doubt about the ideology of the brand - it defines it, and gives it a spinal structure that helps to spread the work around the world.
  • You’ll forgive me for mentioning something I worked on, but this does the same job. When we pitched for this business at Goodby Silverstein, the landscape of PC advertising was all about the speed, the memory, the size of the hard disk. We took the insight that people actually store their life on it, yet we’ve started to abbreviate Personal Computer to PC and changed the market.
  • Finally, the gold standard of brand ideas: Nike - it’s not a brand onions or brand score sheet type of brand - it’s a brand with rock solid behaviours, personality and ideals. And the line, which has come and gone and come back over time, sums up the idea perfectly.
  • I wish I could tell you the sales results on this one. I don’t know them. But I do know that it put the bee plight on the agenda, it prompted the US congress to fund research into the problem, it picked up a Silver Lion in the Titanium category at Cannes. But, most importantly for the effectiveness question, it won a Gold Effie in 2009. And you don’t get those unless you can prove the sales story!
  • This is an obvious one, hence it sitting in 10th place
  • This probably deserves a place further up the ranking, since it’s a real killer of great work. If you try to put creativity into too rigid a process or apply a formula to your work, you will not get to great.
  • Bill Bernbach wrote this in the 60’s. What’s interesting about this quote is that it’s as true today as it was then - all the media change hasn’t changed the underlying truths. And it is part of why Bill Bernbach, himself, is great.
  • This isn’t just a planning thing. If the client briefing is poor (or you don’t push hard enough to get under the surface of the problem), then your start point is weak. If your internal brief ends up being less of an inspirational document and more of a “start work form” then, again, great will be hard to achieve.
  • Great ideas tend to be simple - it’s not an absolute rule, but the more complex, the less likely you’ve really got a great idea. However, getting to great needs even more simplicity. You can’t let the problem become too complex - you can’t sit with a long wish-list - you need to find a simple business opportunity to solve.
  • If you spend your time guessing what the person above you is going to say (be that your boss, or your client) you will not get to great. Spend your time asking “is this the best answer for this brand?” and “is this great?”.
  • A number of great opportunities are lost because people dismiss the initial brief as too small. The team at DDB, working on VW, fought against doing price promotion advertising for years, until the problem became unavoidable. Then produced this gem...
  • Think how much time and opportunity could have been saved if they had started on it sooner?
  • Rich Silverstein’s bug bear is people who put all their effort into an ad, then don’t do anything interesting with the ending - they flash up a URL and logo that you’d never have time to read and it’s done. My personal bug bear is seeing briefs that are badly written, mis-spelt or just laid out so they look ugly - if you can’t be bothered to make something great yourself, then how the hell do you expect the next person to bother? Editing, production, briefing, everything It’s about craft - whether you’re in creative, planning, account team, production, anywhere.
  • This is one of the big ones... The easiest way to get to great is to really understand the business first. Make sure you know your product, the brand, the consumer - but then make sure you know why the business is investing the money in some form of marketing. Not because you have $5m to spend, but what result is expected - a lot of great ideas come out of finding a genuine growth opportunity and a strategy behind it. Business and strategy are inextricably linked.
  • Nobody else is to blame. You are. If you think you can blame others, you’re not focused on being better yourself. The client, the suit, the producer. None of them are to blame - you should make certain things were perfect so the idea survives intact. In most cases, the idea wasn’t great enough to inspire them!
  • Plenty of people are good - 90% of ads are good. Most products are good. But... The reason that brands move agencies is that most of the time they’re getting good. The reason people move job is that they want to do something better (or get paid more)... Great is worth it - don’t ever settle for good.
  • When you stop and think about our business, what do you wish you’d worked on? What campaign ideas or planning insight do you wish you’d found? And are any of them “good” rather than “great”? Most of your working life, you’ll produce “good”. But the stuff you’ll remember proudly will only be the great stuff. Golf is said to be addictive so long as you have one great shot a game, one good hole a month and one good round a year. But the pros play great rounds every day and that’s what we need to do - being addicted isn’t enough. We need to repeat the performance. Sadly, the job we do is a tad harder!
  • You need to know what it is, but then you need to do something great of your own. It helps to understand what great looks like, so you can spot it when it’s in the room, but don’t let your great be a re-working of someone else’s. That’s not truly great.
  • Be honest and real - don’t persuade yourself that you/your brand are great when you’re generally producing something good or average.
  • Be opportunistic
  • Great looks easy, but it’s hard as hell. If you aim for anything less, though, you’ll never see it. And I can promise you one thing - it’s worth it when you’re involved in something great.
  • You, the planner, together with the account director, will take a brief, question it, and then write it up. You need to be working together and the pair of you need to be certain you’ve created a massive opportunity for the creatives to build on.
  • Talking to the guy who ran Nike in London yesterday and it was interesting what he said. “You’ll see grown men crying at their desks trying to write Nike ads.” They’re not easy. They’re difficult as hell. The worst thing you can think is that producing great work on brands that consistently have great work is easier. It’s not.
  • Great vs. Good

    1. Great vs. Good <ul><li>(A tale where ‘good’ is the bad guy) </li></ul>For the Miami Ad School in Europe, July 2010 Simon Law Executive Planning Director True Worldwide
    2. Open, Honest, Bias <ul><li>I have worked at: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>KHBB, Saatchi & Saatchi </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Goodby Silverstein & Partners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WCRS, TBWA, SapientNitro </li></ul></ul><ul><li>And friends of mine work or worked at: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wieden+Kennedy, Fallon, Mother </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AKQA, CP+B, Apple </li></ul></ul>
    3. Disclaimer This is neither an exhaustive, nor official list of “greatness”
    4. Four acts: i. What “great” looks like ii. The elusiveness of “great” iii. The enemies of “great” iv. Three tips to help you find “great”
    5. Act i: What “great” looks like (sit back and enjoy)
    7. “ Great” inhabits a different world (in any and every medium)
    14. “ Great” doesn’t always need a big budget (it just needs a big idea)
    17. “ Great” isn’t merely an ‘advertising’ ideal. It applies to everything you think and do.
    23. “ Great” looks different every year and will continue to do so
    28. “ Great” = disproportionate success (beyond media spend and efficiency)
    29. Pound for pound, creativity makes ad campaigns more efficient. Creatively-awarded campaigns are at least 11 times more efficient. Source: IPA Report - The link between creativity and effectiveness, June 2010
    32. “ Great” is fragile and fickle (it’s easy to lose)
    34. “ Great” helps you organise your brand (Once you find “great”, it’s easier to spread)
    39. But “great” also stands the test of time (and doesn’t fade as quickly as others)
    41. You should try to only accept “great”. It’ll hurt occasionally, but it’s worth it.
    42. Because getting to “Great” is difficult (really, truly, damnably difficult)
    43. Act ii. The elusiveness of “great”
    44. Product: Ice Cream Benefit: Indulgence Truth: Natural ingredients
    45. Not particularly good: Ingredients message (Strawberrys)
    46. Not particularly good: Ingredients message (Natural taste of freshness)
    47. Still not particularly good: Classic product message (Thick and creamy)
    48. Better (well, not really): Emotional message (Food of love)
    49. Good: Message made into belief (Less is more = Natural)
    50. Great: Belief turned into cause (Save the honey bees)
    51. Great: Belief turned into cause
    52. Great: A cause with a sense of humour
    53. Great: A cause with a simple, clear message
    54. Act iii: The enemies of “great”
    55. 10. Time
    56. 9. Process and formula (inflexibility)
    57. “ Principles endure, formulas don’t. You must get attention to your ad. This is a principle that will always be true. HOW you get attention is a subtle ever-changing thing. What is attractive one day may be dull the next.” Bill Bernbach
    58. 8. Poor briefing
    59. 7. Complexity
    60. 6. Cowardice (Managing upwards)
    61. 5. Underestimating the opportunity
    63. 4. Lack of attention to detail
    64. 3. Failing to understand the business
    65. 2. Blaming someone else
    66. 1. Getting to “Good”
    67. “ Good” vs. “Great” Everything else is a symptom
    68. The end is nigh (Honestly - we’re nearly there)
    69. Act iv: Three tips to help you find “great”
    70. 1. Learn the craft of “great” 2. Be tough on yourself 3. Seek out opportunities
    71. 1. Learn the craft of “great” Watch reels Read case studies Follow awards Talk to people Read books BUT... Find your own greatness
    72. 2. Be tough on yourself Be real Spend longer on it Really question yourself Be hungrier than everyone else Sweat the details Learn to write well and talk well Become a tad obsessive
    73. 3. Seek out opportunities Not just the obvious ones! Look for new angles Look for tired brands Look for ‘problems’ Find business growth strategies Surround yourself with the best team
    74. A new motto? We hate “good”. “ Good” is the enemy of “great”.
    75. And, for you planners... You have the first opportunity within the agency to ensure “great” output. Don’t squander it.
    77. The End (genuinely)