Monthly Archives: September 2010

BP teaches us a lesson in humility

Whether you’re a Prime Minister who’s led a country into an illegal, ill-conceived war, or a multi-million pound footballer caught with your pants down while your pregnant wife’s out shopping, for many ‘sorry’ really is the hardest word; so credit where it’s due to that modern day pariah, BP.

Speaking at the International Advertising Association lunch this month, Luc Bardin, BP’s group sales and marketing chief, made a surprisingly candid and personal speech.

Addressing more than 200 international media and advertising executives, the Frenchman set the tone early with a disclaimer: “I’m not going to have a response as a marketer. I’m going to have a response as a person.”

He went on to talk for more than half an hour about his own “very physical and emotional time” working alongside some 60,000 BP employees in the Gulf of Mexico, “sleeves rolled up, feet on the ground and working in the trenches”.

Bardin referred to the spill as “a tragic accident” but wanted to stress how BP “has taken responsibility”.

Among the more surprising revelations during the crisis was that the usually very serious business of BP’s brand management was among the first things to slip from the radar. I guess when people have died, wildlife has suffered and coastlines have been decimated, as Bardin himself admitted, “it hardly matters, it hardly matters”.

Except of course, now the oil’s finally stopped and recriminations become more rationalised, it actually starts to become more of an issue.

Why wasn’t CEO Tony Hayward more media savvy? Why did the long-defunct ‘British Petroleum’ branding creep back into the lexicon? Why were there so many mixed messages in the early days? And, just as importantly, what is the plan going forward?

Bardin didn’t profess to having all the answers. He conceded “all components of the brand” were now being considered, but refused to commit to any ‘back to business’ marketing drive in the US or anywhere else.

“Actions are going to be much stronger than words,” he said, adding that “BP is a wonderful brand that will prove itself over time.”

But ‘time’ may be among the many things the fourth largest multi-national company in the world has lost along the way.

What has been even more disturbing than the raging, vitriolic media coverage and obligatory “I Hate Tony Hayward” Facebook page, has been the speed with which fellow marketers and commentators have written off the 100 year old brand.

Nowhere has this rapid descent been symbolised more clearly than in Interbrand’s annual league table, where BP tumbled more than 17 places to sit outside the global Top 100 for the first time since its inception.

The profound plummet in brand value has been tracked across the board, with consultancy Brand Finance calculating BP haemorrhaged an eye-watering $72m (£45m) worth of brand value every day between May and July after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.

BP also officially revealed the biggest-ever quarterly loss by any British company of £11 billion.

It’s dangerous ground when your market value is considered to be substantially less than the sum of your parts. The vultures have already begun to circle in the anticipation of a fire-sale of BP’s oil wells, offices and equipment. Whisper it, but it really could be an effective way to end the pain.

Bardin will be more aware of such a potential quick-fix remedy than most, but his passion and focus remains.

“The brand belongs to the people, and a brand like BP belongs to all those who are associated with it in anyway,” he said.
He added: “I think this organisation is distinctive in the way that people live what they are. The incident is absolutely shocking. It has been a blow to many people, including me.”

“We are going to continue to try and get it right. Stay true to what the brand is and who you are.”

He was only speaking at the event at all because he’d committed to attend before the Maconda disaster on 20 April. The fact that, many crazy months later, the father of four had honoured his commitment to the west London gig was to his credit.

But the marketer who, in addition to his sales and marketing remit is also responsible for BP’s colossal strategic partnerships like the Olympics, was under no illusions about the “massive task” ahead.

He was right to ask us “Did [the tragedy] mean that our brand and what it represents was bad? Does it mean that what many people in this world respected and valued was bad?”

Graham Hales, chief executive of Interbrand, believes BP’s future must now involve setting “realistic expectations” and ensuring it can live up to and deliver against them.

For his part, Bardin concluded with nothing short of an emotional plea: “I came here to share a passion for this brand. Help it please, it needs your belief.”

BP’s former chief Hayward was right about one thing: life really isn’t fair, and we all run the risk of stepping off the pavement one day and being hit by a bus. But let’s not forget that if you survive, how you bounce back will always be the clincher to the story.

On 17 September 2010, BP’s Luc Bardin didn’t make a bad start.

Read more on BP teaches us a lesson in humility…


Nicole Yershon sent me a link to a website called ‘Old Jews Telling Jokes’.
One of my favourites is about two Jews walking down the street.
They pass a Church.
On the notice board outside is a sign saying “£10 for anyone who converts to Christianity”.
One of them stops.
He says, “£10, that’s not a bad deal.”
The second one says, “You’re going to convert to Christianity?”
The first one says, “Who has to convert? You go in, you drink the wine, you eat the biscuit, you get £10.”
The second one says, “You can do it if you want. I’ll wait here.”
So the first one goes in to the Church.
After a half hour he comes out.
The Second one says to him “Well, did you get the money?”
The first one looks down his nose at him and says “Is that all you people ever think about?”
That’s kind of how I feel about people in advertising.
Before they get into advertising they’re normal people.
They watch stuff on TV.
They go on the internet.
They read newspapers.
They walk round a supermarket, take things off shelves and buy them.
Then they get into advertising.
Now they’re not ordinary people anymore.
Now they’re ‘experts’.
Now they study ordinary people in a detached manner.
As if they are an alien race.
A race no one can possibly understand without being trained.
A race that needs to be observed with sophisticated technology.
I went to a Rory Sutherland talk in the week.
He talked about ‘clock thinking’ and ‘cloud thinking’.
Karl Popper coined those terms for this dichotomy
Cloud-thinking is what ordinary people do.
Clouds are big, amorphous, constantly changing, and unpredictable.
A cloud has mass, but it comes and goes.
It has shape, but it changes.
We know it’s there, but we can’t measure its dimensions exactly.
Cloud-thinking is intuitive.
But of course you can’t pin it down like that.
And ‘experts’ need to be able to pin things down.
So clock-thinking is what ‘experts’ do.
A clock is regular, predictable, repetitious, pedestrian.
Exactly the same every time, tick tock.
No variation.
Obviously, people who are trying to analyse things prefer clock thinking.
It seems dependable and trustworthy.
One problem.
You can’t use clock thinking to tell us how to make a cloud.
We’ll end up with a clock.
If we want a cloud, we have to use cloud thinking.
But clock-thinkers aren’t comfortable with that.
It’s unpredictable, uncontrollable.
So they’d rather cling on to the security of clock thinking.
Which is why 90% of advertising doesn’t work.
Because how we reacted to advertising before we got into it, was cloud thinking.
We simply ignored most of it.
We didn’t analyse advertising using clock-thinking.
See, clock thinking looks at every tiny detail under a microscope.
Takes it apart, examines it, reassembles it.
And that works for other people in advertising.
Our audience doesn’t work in advertising.
And cloud thinking doesn’t do details.
Cloud thinking does big picture.
Cloud thinking ignores everything that doesn’t force itself onto our radar.
If we’re going to be successful we need to rediscover cloud thinking.
We need to reach back into our memories and see if we can still remember what we thought about it when we were ordinary human beings.

Before we became members of a superior alien intelligence



John Locke said we were born ‘table rasa’.
In other words a blank sheet of paper.
We know absolutely nothing, we have to learn everything from the beginning.
But we can’t learn everything.
So we learn what applies to us.
Then we think that is everything.
I thought the advertising debate about product versus brand was about a decade old.
But I’ve just seen a piece of film from the 1950s that proves it’s about 60 years old.
Apparently Rosser Reeves, who ran Ted Bates, was the father of the USP.
The unique selling proposition.
You find, or manufacture, something different about your product.
A reason consumers should buy it rather than your competitor’s product.
Then make that the basis of all your advertising.
So far so good.
That makes perfect sense.
Demonstrate a reason to purchase and build a brand around that.
The problem was, this being the fifties, the advertising was pretty dire.
Just repeat the USP again and again.
Until it becomes like a bad Eurovision song you can’t get out of your head.
So the thinking was good.
But the execution was bad.
The other side of the coin was Norman B. Norman, who ran NCK.
He was the father of ‘emotional’ advertising.
Never mind what the product actually did.
Find out what the consumer wanted, and sell it back to them.
This was the start of Planning (or ‘motivational research’ as it was called then) looking for ‘insights’.
On the film, Norman B. Norman gave 3 examples.
Ajax Laundry Detergent claimed to wash whiter than other detergents.
The problem was everyone was saying the same thing.
So, rather than find a better way of saying it, Norman B. Norman looked for a consumer insight.
He said, “Of course the housewife wants a whiter wash. But what she really wants is no laundry at all. She’d like someone to make the problem disappear.”
This lead to an advertising campaign for Ajax where a white knight galloped along the road on a charger.
He tapped the dirty washing with his lance and magically transformed it into piles of clean, pressed laundry.
His contention was that women would associate their fantasy with Ajax, and buy the brand.
Another example he gave was for Handi-Wrap cling film.
The product benefit was, it kept food fresh, conveniently.
But Norman B. Norman found this dull and unmotivating.
The consumer insight he found was “What’s a woman really wants is her husband’s approval. She doesn’t want him to open his lunch at work and find it dry as a bone. She doesn’t want him to be disappointed in her.”
So the brief became ‘a husband’s approbation’.
And the execution became a Dracula-like character called ‘The Spoiler’.
He shrivelled-up the husband’s food unless it was wrapped in Handi-Wrap.
The third example he gave was for Ajax Floor Cleaner.
This was apparently the most powerful modern cleaning powder.
But Norman B. Norman decided that was too dull.
So he looked for a consumer insight.
And again found that women would really rather not clean floors at all.
They secretly wished they could get it all get done as if by magic.
So the advertising vehicle became a wizard who tangoed through the kitchen with the housewife.
Everywhere they danced the kitchen was magically sparkling bright.
I remember when advertising was done by people like Norman B, Norman.
And I disagree with pretty much everything he stands for.
For a start, I don’t think women are that stupid.
I think promising the impossible is patronising and demeaning.
Secondly, I think he’s taking research and misinterpreting it.
It’s like cutting the back legs off a grasshopper.
Then shouting at it and noticing it doesn’t jump.
And taking this to prove that grasshoppers hear through their legs.
Because cutting them off makes them go deaf.
That’s how not to use research.
But just because one agency does it badly, that shouldn’t invalidate an entire discipline.
Norman B. Norman is the ‘brand’ route done badly.
Rosser Reeves is the ‘product’ route done badly.
But what’s really wrong is thinking there’s one magic formula in all cases.
There isn’t now.
There never was.
We still have to think.
We can’t just kneejerk into a quick fix.
Because the deeper truth is, the answer will always be in one of two places.
Either in the product.
Or in the consumer.
And we have to be prepared to use our brains to see which solution is right.
Then, most importantly, we have to brilliantly bring it to life.

Which neither Rosser Reeves nor Norman B. Norman had the brains to see.



I was listening to the radio last week.
Apparently The Pope has come to the UK with a message.
The general theme seems to be that religion will give us a better society than secularity will.
Straight away that made me think.
That’s a market-growth message.
Is that a smart thing to be telling the people of the UK?
See market-growth is what you do in a market you dominate.
You grow the market so you get the biggest share of any growth.
But Catholicism doesn’t dominate the UK market.
Forget atheists (core non-users) and the pious (core users).
No point in talking to either of those groups.
They are locked-off and pretty much incapable of persuasion.
That leaves the rest of us.
Mainly we are all don’t care, never thought about it, only when I need it, agnostics.
People who were maybe Christened/Baptised/ whatever, then forgot about it.
Lapsed users.
In the UK, my guess would be the Catholic share is around 20%.
I’d guess C of E about 50%.
All other religions, 30%.
So, if The Pope sees his job as getting lapsed users to re-ignite their faith, he’ll only be getting 1 out of 5.
For every five people he encourages to rediscover their faith, four will rediscover something other than Catholicism.
Is this what he wanted?
I doubt it.
I thought the problem with his strategy is he’s looking on a global level, not a local one.
On a global level Catholicism may well be market leader.
For a start they must be the biggest religion in South America.
Brazil, Argentine, Uruguay, Paraguay, that’s got to be a billion people.
Plus Central America: Mexico, etc.
Plus The Philippines, Ireland, France, and obviously Italy.
So probably a quarter of the earth’s people were born and brought up Catholic.
Now for those people it obviously makes sense to have a market growth message.
Encouraging retrial amongst lapsed users.
A general message about religion being better than secularity makes sense here.
If you can get people back into religion, Catholicism will automatically be the one most will choose.
But how about the rest of the world?
In the USA, UK, and Northern Europe, Protestantism is market leader.
So a brand-share strategy would make more sense.
A strategy explaining how wonderful Catholicism is.
The frescoes of Uccello and Piero Della Francesca.
The paintings of Raphael and Da Vinci,
The sculptures of Michelangelo and Bernini.
The music, the architecture of The Renaissance.
Catholicism could have a very powerful emotional appeal.
But then how many people are actually likely to switch?
We can enjoy everything about the Catholic Church without being Catholic.
The Duomos of Tuscany, the Chiesas of Umbria, the Scuolas of Venice.
So they would have little chance of brand-switching in Protestant dominated markets.
And there would be next to no chance with a message like that in the rest of the world.
India, over a billion people but mainly Hindu.
The Middle East, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia.
Another billion people, but mainly Moslem.
Thailand, which is Buddhist.
China and Russia, getting on for two billion people.
But both recovering from communist-enforced atheism.
So, looking at the possible market from the Pope’s angle, I’d guess it breaks down like this.
Building market share by converting people from other religions is a non-starter.
The return wouldn’t justify the massive resources necessary.
Many years ago, however, in an undeveloped market, this kind of thinking worked.
The ‘Conquistadore’ strategy of the 15th and 16th centuries and the brand-share strategy of the Spanish Inquisition.
But in terms of religion this is now a saturated market.
So The Pope’s new strategy makes much more sense.
It always makes sense to go for the low-hanging fruit, the easy win.
Because of Catholicism’s market dominance in so many regions, that means encouraging retrial amongst lapsed consumers.
If it works, and done properly it should, this will eventually lead to increased market share amongst those who actually practice a religion.
I think The Pope’s got it right.

In advertising terms at least, I’m a convert.


Is UK restructure a backwards step for Carat?

Horler and de Groose, happily united?

So Rob
Horler is no longer managing director of Carat, but then neither, yet again, is
deputy MD Steve Hobbs, what to make of it all?

A restructure
in the UK, announced at the
start of the month
, catapults long-time consultant Tracy de Groose into Carat’s
hot seat, while Hobbs
becomes director of media operations for Aegis Media.

Read more on Is UK restructure a backwards step for Carat?…

The hinge goes both ways

One of my favourite books is by Eric Durschmied, it’s called ‘The Hinge Factor’.
It’s about small events, that changed the course of history.
One of the chapters is called ‘Der Haltebefehl’.
In English that’s ‘The Order To Stop’.
It happened in France in 1940.
The Germans had beaten the French, and the British retreated to Dunkirk.
They sat on the beaches, defenceless, vulnerable, ready to be destroyed.
Guderian’s panzer army was about to kill or capture half a million men.
But, in desperation, a small force of British tanks attacked the German’s flank.
(The flank is the vulnerable part on the sides of an attack.)
Hitler remembered the First World War.
The terror of leaving the flanks exposed to counter-attack.
He ordered his entire army to stop and regroup.
To allow the flanks to be strengthened before they moved on.
So the German army waited.
While they waited the British army was evacuated from Dunkirk.
The army was re-equipped and sent to the Middle East.
Where it beat the Italian army.
So Hitler had to divert an entire German army to the Middle East, to support the Italians.
He also diverted one of his best generals, Rommel.
Equipment and men that would otherwise have been fighting the Russians.
Resources that might have changed the outcome of the war.
But instead, they were sent to fight the army that he let escape at Dunkirk.
So “Der Haltebefehl” is remembered by history as a bad judgement.
A small event that much bigger events hinged upon.
Made by a man who wasn’t looking at the overall picture.
Just allowing one tiny piece to influence his decision, and assume a value out of all proportion to its actual importance.
Because, if we just look at a tiny part of what’s happening through a jeweller’s eyepiece, we miss the big picture.
And if we misunderstand what’s really going on, how it all fits in, we make bad decisions.
That’s how I feel about advertising.
We need to constantly keep the big picture in mind.
Nothing does the entire job on its own.
But if you listen to the new-media gurus, that’s what you’d believe.
That you never need any other form of advertising except online, digital, social-media, anything that comes over your laptop or iPhone.
But is that true?
See, for a successful sale you normally need three things
Awareness. Footfall. Conversion. (Whether actual or metaphorical.)
First off, advertising itself is usually about awareness.
It lets people know your product or brand exists, it piques their interest.
And people can’t buy it unless they know it exists.
Next comes footfall.
Retail is footfall.
If we don’t have a sales outlet, people can’t find it.
So we need to put the customer in the vicinity of the product.
And, once they’ve found it and tried it, the third thing needs to happen.
Point of sale, packaging design, product design, is conversion.
That’s where the rubber meets the road.
Everything up to that point is foreplay.
But new-media advocates don’t see it that way.
They think everyone does the entire process online.
You never need to move from in front of your laptop.
A popup ad makes you aware of something.
So you research it.
You go to Twitter, you go to blogs.
When you’re intrigued you go to the website.
If you’re convinced you click on the ‘purchase’ button.
Then just sit and wait for the your purchase to arrive.
Well, maybe that’s true for Amazon.
I certainly buy books there.
But I buy a lot more books walking around Waterstones.
So not all traditional retail outlets are dead.
Undoubtedly, online is like a virtual shop.
But you still need advertising to make you aware of what’s in the shop.
To drive you there in the first place.
That’s two things advertising does very well in conjunction with online.
Awareness and footfall.
Used intelligently they work very well together.
And understanding how everything fits together allows us to make the best decisions.
The digital revolution will change everyone’s life the way Caxton’s printing press did.
But Caxton’s printing press didn’t stop the need for thinking.
Creativity suddenly had more possibilities than ever.
Advertising was born once the printing press happened.
And advertising grew when newspapers and posters happened.
And grew even more when film, radio, and television happened.
Digital, online, social-media won’t be the death of advertising.
It just means there will be more than ever.
We don’t quite know how we’re going to use it all yet.
But we’ll discover that.
The one great advantage new-media has over traditional media is, it’s free.
The only cost is brains.
If you’ve got brains you can generate massive media coverage from very little.
But that’s always been true.
So we need to stand back and take a look at the big picture.
See where it all fits in, how it works together.

That way we’ll get the right result from the hinge factor.
Not the wrong one.

Read more on The hinge goes both ways…


Recently I went to lunch with a client.
This is an energetic, intelligent, unconventional person.
We had a really good time exchanging views and ideas.
The only road bump was when we came to discuss The Sun.
And especially page 3.
I’ve always seen The Sun as a bit of harmless fun.
Sort of a grownup comic.
You read it for the jokes but don’t actually take it seriously.
It’s wittier than The Mirror, The Star, The Sport, The News of the World.
And it’s not so whiny or negative as The Mail.
Once or twice a week I’ll find a really good headline in it.
I usually find NEWS IN BRIEFS funny.
This is the little caption over the page 3 nude photo.
It will say something like “Tracy, 23, from Essex think the chancellor’s fiscal policies must take into consideration the viability of necessary levels of debt reduction.”
Obviously the girl herself doesn’t write them.
It’s just standard schoolboy humour: cognitive dissonance.
But the person I was talking to got quite upset.
He said he’d been at a dinner where the Sun’s editor, Rebekah Wade, had been giving a speech.
Talking about how much better things were for women now they had equal opportunity.
He said she couldn’t see how laughably at odds that was with what she was doing in her newspaper.
Showing naked women on page 3, whose sole function was ‘wank material’ for blokes.
He said the ‘News In Briefs’ comments poked fun at women.
Readers were encouraged to laugh at their stupidity.
It made me stop and think.
I never saw it like that.
But it made me check my view of The Sun against my own moral position.
I’ve always believed anything is okay as long as it takes place between the following:
1) Consenting.
2) Adults.
3) In private.
If you tick those three boxes, nothing you do is anyone else’s business.
If you only tick two, that’s not enough.
If you’re both consenting, and adults, but it’s not in private, then that won’t do.
Other people may not want to see whatever you’re doing.
Get a room.
If you’re both consenting, and it’s in private, but you’re not adults, then that won’t do.
You have to be old enough to take responsibility for your actions.
Children can’t do that.
If you’re both adults, and it’s in private, but one of you doesn’t consent, then that won’t do.
That’s called rape.
How does The Sun’s page 3, and ‘News In Briefs’ stack up?
Well, I guess everyone’s consenting.
The girls are being paid, and they’re obviously proud of their bodies.
They want to do it.
And the person looking at it wants to, or they wouldn’t have bought the paper.
Which brings us to the second point.
Is it in private?
Well, to see it, you have to buy a copy of The Sun.
You have to actively choose to participate.
If you don’t want to see it, you buy a different paper.
But you can’t do that with a poster site in the street.
Posters are broadcast media.
So posters have to have a stricter control.
That’s why there are controls on TV programmes, liked the nine o’clock watershed.
So you have a choice.
If you don’t want your children exposed to rude language or bad taste, don’t let them watch TV after nine o’clock.
Which brings us to the third point.
Can we be sure everyone who reads The Sun is an adult?
Well no, not really.
So should The Sun be sold on the top shelf, where only adults can reach?
Well, that’s a point for discussion I guess.
Personally I don’t know anyone who buys The Sun for page 3.
Before they started to write ‘News In Briefs’ I don’t know anyone who even looked at it.
If you want naked women there are publications with many more of them in.
Printed in full colour on glossy, easy to wipe clean, stock.
So where does that leave us?
Personally I think The Sun offends Guardian readers.
I don’t quite know why.
The Mail seems to me to be more the Yin to the The Guardian’s Yang.
Both of them see themselves as the protector of moral rectitude.
The Sun is just a bit of fun.
And consequently, sells more than both of them put together.
So is The Sun really responsible for perpetuating a stereotype of women that is actually harmful?
On the one hand, you have a powerful female editor.
And a paper that actively supported Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister.
On the other hand, you’ve got nudes on page 3.
I think the truth is that people who read The Sun don’t really think that deeply.
That’s why they read The Sun.
So maybe the real question is: should people who don’t think deeply be allowed to buy what they want?
I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this.
Jeremy Bentham’s definition of Utilitarianism was “The greatest happiness for the greatest number”.
John Stuart Mill’s problem with this was that, left to their own devices, ordinary people may be happy living like pigs.
And his view was, “It’s better to be Shakespeare and miserable, than a pig and happy.”
Which doesn’t really answer either of the questions.
Point one: is The Sun’s page 3 (and ‘News In Briefs’) really harmful?
Point two: if it is, should something be done about it?

What makes a pronouncement difficult is something else Mill said, “Your freedom to do as you please ends one inch in front of my nose.”


Good for the consumer, good for business: why it is right to extend digital media self-regulation

Earlier this week the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced its intention to extend its self-regulatory digital media remit from 1 March 2011. This will cover business’ own marketing communications on their own websites as well as in other non paid-for space under an advertiser’s control, such as social networking sites. All paid-for digital advertising, such as PPC search, display and (commercial) classified, is already covered by robust rules to protect consumers and promote trust within the sector.

Read more on Good for the consumer, good for business: why it is right to extend digital media self-regulation…

Advertising is the Discovery Channel

My wife likes to relax watching the Cookery Channel.
When I get the remote, I switch to Discovery.
Or the History Channel, or the Military Channel, or How Things Work.
One of us ends up watching TV in the front room.
The other one has to watch the TV in the kitchen.
Unless they make a programme called, ‘Great Meals Cooked In Panzer Tanks’ we can’t watch TV together.
She can’t understand why I watch so many documentaries.
The thing is, like most blokes, I love to learn stuff.
Blokes love information.
It’s the male version of gossip.
Listen to blokes in pubs.
Whatever the subject they’re talking about, at least half the conversation will start, “Did you know….”.
It’s like the scene in Gregory’s Girl.
Two young guys are waiting at a bus stop discussing how to chat up girls.
Eventually a girl comes along to wait for the bus.
One of the guys turns to her and says, “Did you know that, when you sneeze, the air comes out of your nose faster than the speed of sound? That’s why you make a noise, it breaks the sound barrier.”
The girl is bored and turns away.
Whereas I’m thinking, “I didn’t know that, that’s really interesting.”
What I love about advertising is it’s like The Discovery Channel.
You get paid to find out new stuff.
I’ve worked on loads of beers and talked to lots of head brewers.
Did you know that every beer in the world must chemically recreate one of 4 water sources before they can brew it?
If it’s stout, it’s Liffey.
If it’s dark lager, it’s Munchen.
If it’s pale lager, it’s Pilsen.
If it’s ale, it’s Burton.
Isn’t that fascinating?
I’ve worked on lots of cars and talked to lots of different technical guys.
Did you know a boxer engine is the only engine that can give you a 4WD in-line drive train?
Because it’s low enough to go in front of the front axle.
An upright or V-engine would make the bonnet too high.
I’ve worked on loads of confectionary and talked to the guys who taste and buy the raw materials.
Do you know English people prefer their chocolate to have slightly ‘cheesy’ taste?
So that’s what buyers look for when they buy cocoa beans.
Which is why our chocolate tastes sweeter than other countries’?
And that’s just the client end.
How about planning?
If you haven’t got a massive P&G size budget how do you reach the massive target market?
Did you know the difference between demographics and psychographics means you can use opinion formers to create a trickle-down effect.
It’s not as hard as it sounds.
Like anything on Discovery Channel, it’s just about lifting up the bonnet and seeing which bit goes where.
Even the most complicated engine works on the same basic principles.
How about the film production process?
Did you know a movie camera uses the same 35mm stock that you use in a standard SLR?
But, instead of going through the camera sideways, it goes top down.
So every frame is half what it would be on a stills camera.
Which means every lens is half what it would be on a stills camera.
When you know that it’s simple.
If you want the effect you’d get with a 28mm lens on your camera, you use a 14mm lens on a film camera.
All this is stuff you wouldn’t learn in any other job.
Because no other job gives you access to so many different disciplines.
And the right to question everybody about their job.
Because the more you learn about their job, the better you can do your job.
With any other job, you just do the same job ever day.
Here, you’re writing a script, doing a voice-over recording, choosing music, going on a photo shoot, overseeing a film set, learning about editing, learning animation.
And all of that is before you come anywhere near learning all the other disciplines in our business.
Strategic thinking, planning and research, traditional media, social media.
All of which is before you come anywhere near learning anything about clients’ business for new business pitches.
Technology, fashion, retail, charitable, financial, medical, automotive.
And learning about how people work.
Sexual differences, racial differences, social and class differences, regional differences, attitudinal differences.
All you need is an enquiring mind.
And the desire to take complicated things and make them simple.

If you’ve got those two things, this isn’t work.
It’s paid fun.

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