January 2016

It’s not something I’m proud of, but…

art directed

A beautiful child has many parents.
An ugly child is an orphan.

There’s some great advertising wisdom for you.

There are a lot of people who will claim ownership of a Cannes winner. And some of them might even have been in the room when the concept was born or wandering through the agency when the piece was being created.

Very few people lay claim to the turds.

Considering the primary role of advertising is to raise awareness.
And assuming, to raise awareness, it must first be noticed.
Most advertising (this covers all commercial communications from TV to brand experiences and websites) fails to do its job.

Dave Trott – who everyone in this business should read and re-read – cites a great statistic.

Last year, £18.3 billion was spent in the UK on all forms of advertising.

4% is remembered positively.

7% is remembered negatively.

89% isn’t noticed or remembered. At all. Almost £17 billion wasted.

As the delightful Mr Trott puts it, 89% of all advertising might as well not have run.

The interesting thing, from my point of view, is the numbers haven’t really changed in years.

Every year, almost 90% of all commercial communications are un-remembered.

They fail to do their job.

Everyone you talk to in advertising and marketing can tell you their relationship to some ad or website or brand experience that rests in the 4%. But no one wants to claim the ugly babies. There must be an army of turd-elves secretly labouring in turd-factories creating the shiny dross seen (but not remembered) by normal people in consumer world.

We need to rest on thorns, not laurels.

If we started taking responsibility for our less than perfect creations, we’d start figuring our ways to make them better.

More liked. More remembered. More viral. More effective.

We’d look at the brief. We’d look at the assumptions of the people in the room. We’d look at the expectations. We’d look at the scope. And the creep. We’d look at who wants to have an opinion and who wants to take responsibility. And let the people who are prepared to take the responsibility make the decisions.

We could start the meeting with, “Look, this is not the work I’m proudest of, but… “ – and see where that gets us.

Brand Loyalists aren’t

Brand Loyalists exist - if you're prepared to stretch your idea of "loyal".

How do you create brand loyalists?

There’s a lovely TED talk featuring a chat between Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

It talks about the genuine benefits of friendships.
Proper friendships.
Friendships based on shared experiences and support and laughter.

It got me thinking about the communities we try and build for products and services and brands.

Research suggests the numbers of total brand loyalists who only buy one brand are surprisingly few.
People who “only buy Adidas” will sometimes buy Nike.
People who “only drink Coke” will sometimes buy Pepsi.
People who “only stay at Hyatt” will sometimes stay at the Intercontinental.

As much as we want to create the perfect customer who only buys from us, the data suggests this ideal brand loyalist lives with Santa and is best mates with the Tooth Fairy.

I think it’s because a lot of brands aren’t loyal to their customers.
Or don’t have ways of showing they’re loyal to their customers.
Many brand managers have tried to do this by building a community.
It was seen as a way of building preference and, hopefully, loyalty.
But it seems “building a community” doesn’t equate to “anything”.

While the intent is to build a real community founded on a common love or passion, it often turns into a bunch of people with a desire for getting free stuff.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we acknowledge why people are doing what they’re doing.

People like loyalty programs.
People like getting a bargain.
But (according to Bond Brand Loyalty) 58% of customers won’t join a loyalty program because they value their privacy too much.
And, according to Forbes, a survey sponsored by AisleBuyer in the States says a staggering 75% of people would swap purchase intent if prompted (via their mobile) by a discount offer or promotion at point of purchase.
Turns out when someone says they’re a brand loyalist, they actually mean they’re brand loyal-ish.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s just the way things are.


In the above talk, Jane Fonda points out that she’s more emotionally open with her real friends.

Are commercial relationships emotionally open?
Are they honest? Are they trustworthy? Are the brands loyal to their customers?
Are the brands prepared to take sides?
And, if one partner in a relationship can’t be honest and trustworthy and loyal, why should the other?

My point is a simple one.
We need to concentrate on doing the hard things right.
We have to try and build loyalty and preference for the stuff we sell.
We have to prove relevance and difference and we have to do it with a smile.
We have to use whatever technology we can to get the consumer in a state of mind where they’re prepared to buy our stuff.
We should have forums and build fan bases and produce posters and radio spots and great websites and intriguing experiences and great service and all the other incredibly hard stuff we need to do to sell whatever it is we’re selling.

We just can’t go on believing our customers aren’t seeing other brands.