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.
Conversion.
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.

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    Worms of differing hue squeezed out of tubes onto a palette are what the various medias r, Dave. The imagination and skill-set of the guy/ess waving the brushes r what matters, what make them effective. Or not.

    Trouble is, there r more Pissaro’s around than Picasso’s.

  • When you discuss the fallacy of people talking new media like old media is toast and useless:

    Nabisco Cookies has a Facebook Fan Page. 0.08% of if its world wide customers (527,000 of my estimated 600mil worldwide) are Fans. Of the Fans they average 0.02-0.09% of them engage with a Nabisco Corporate Post. They also get 10 to 20 unsolicited posts on their wall from fans per day.
    This page often has coupons for free cookies like Oreos.

    I also like to say that how often is all media spend tossed down the drain when I am hit with 360 degrees of contact/advertising and I get to market and I am swayed by a Club Card Deal in the aisle and thus buy the competitor that never spent a dime.

    It’s really in my opinion a dumb battle between people who choose one type of media, incorporate it into their mindset as their key to making money, and being blind to the fact that they are only a small part of a big picture. But its the macro view people who are the leaders and visionaries. The micro view tend to have small breakthroughs that we definitely need so we can add another hue to our color palette as Grilla so nicely said.

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    Grilla,
    Actually more pissartists than pissaros.

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    Pizza-artists if it’s a pitch presentation late-niter, Dave + we’ve done heaps of those, hain’t we?

    [Thanks, Howie G]

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    Hi Dave,
    Online seems to be identifying itself as good in Hotels, Insurance, support advertising for other websites according to Campaign’s story on Google spend.
    Probably works well for car sales too. Its the Kingdom of comparison. Not so good when it comes to Supermarkets (BBC Watchdog) Some supermarkets have been racking up prices between time of purchase and time of delivery. Asda has taken advantage of this with a tactical TV campaign announcing that “You save money by buying online at ASDA”. So there are big tactical advantages in letting others develop the market in awareness and footfall by coming in late and converting other advertiser’s revenue to a positive advantage as Asda have done. It’s a typical P&G predatory strategy.

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    Excellent Kevin, that’s what I’m talking about.
    Let others do Market Growth via awareness and footfall, while ASDA does Brand Share via conversion.
    Predatory thinking linked to integrated media thinking.

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    Grrrrrrrr Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…Dave, all this Predatory Thinking has made me begin to ape one GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRilla!

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    Grilla.. they were talking about google spend and comparisons and tactical TV and online and market awareness and footfall and converting revenue and positive advantage and predatory strategy and market growth and brand share.. then you come along you big ape 🙂

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    Hi Dave,
    I only have one question.
    Brand share via conversion.
    Could Johnny Wilkinson could do that with a Banana?

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    Dave, you have nuts the size of the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

    …I’ve seen photographic evidence that proves it :O

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    Grilla,
    If we’re doing puns, it was quite a wrench giving it back.

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    ….careful Dave, the Vice Squad r in town.

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    I wouldn’t bolt from a bunch of tools like that, screw them.

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    Hammers gonna get nailed this weekend… again?

    [There goes my xmas card]

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    If we are always focussed on the bigger picture, and making sure that the details fit in to this, rather than making the ‘hinge factor’ work in our benefit, does it not remove it all together?
    Do we risk not doing the single execution which might have massive positive impact (even though it might go the other way…) because it doesn’t fit with the overall idea?

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    Grant says he’ll axe Green and Upson, hopefuly he can weld a team together from what’s left on the bench

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    Dave, there’s a squeaking sound coming from somewhere…

    I’ll fetch the grease gun and fill it with AC/DC oil… just in case it’s the hinge that goes both ways.

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    Hi Misha,
    I keep trying to put up links to the trim tab effect and pressure points, to demonstrate the positive effects of the hinge factor.
    But it doesn’t seem to be working, sorry.

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    Just been reading up on the trim tab. Had never heard of it before, really interesting.

    If I understand it right, are you saying that; rather than making sure that the details fit in with the big picture, we should intentionally use the details to change the big picture in the direction we’d like. To be disruptive.

    If this is true then, couldn’t everything rest on that one iPhone app? (Or equally that one small press ad?)

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    @Mischa To quote from the original post “Nothing does the entire job on its own.”
    I guess that means that you must keep the big picture in mind, and not get too focused on one avenue or medium. Not devote to many resources to one detail, where they may be better used further down the line or in other areas (Hitler’s mistake).
    That may mean being disruptive in all media forms, not just one.
    It doesn’t mean, not doing anything unless it fits in with everything else.

    I think the confusion has arisen in the phrase ‘big picture’.
    It has been used to mean both an overarching coherent idea, and a simply wider field of vision.
    The former suggests top down ideology which restricts what we do, whereas the latter suggests greater awareness and therefore an increased playing field.

    It’s important to the discussion that the phrase does not assimilate these two contrasting definitions.

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    Misha and Thomas,
    I’m betting both you guys went to university.
    Remember I went to art school.
    So when you read anything I’ve written the question isn’t ‘is it right?’ the question is ‘is it interesting?’
    When we’re in the process of doing advertising we should always look for the pressure point, or the trim tab effect.
    This helps generate a much bigger effect than our media budget alone could buy.
    (Think of it as share-of-mind, not share-of-voice.)
    The hinge effect is more useful in understanding at which point something went wrong, afterwards.
    (We interpreted the research wrongly, etc.)
    Often, as with Hitler, fear makes us make the wrong decisions.
    We’re trying to be right instead of being exciting.
    That’s the basis of my analogy.

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    Thomas, I think you’re probably right, I was more thinking about how precisely that line you quoted fits in with the trim tab analogy…

    Dave, oddly I went to both art college and university! (after my foundation I went to uni to read philosophy then left a couple of years later to go back to art college to do advertising, which I just graduated…)
    One of the main things I learnt at uni was to question everything (even if you think it’s right), then things start getting interesting. You’re blog is one of the main places I’ve learnt from so whenever I’ve commented on your posts I’ve always tried to question your point, to get something extra from you.

    Saying that the we can only tell the hinge point once it’s happened seems really obvious now you’ve said it! But does that mean trying to predict it’ll make us even less likely to take risks? Like you finish on, should we forget about it until afterwards and focus on trying to do something interesting, then we might make a trim tab…

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    The Hinge Effect.
    There’s a hinge solution for every problem.

    The small hinge:
    Used in sets to, hold a door up and compensate for warp.
    (Small space, tactical, or drip campaigns).

    The piano hinge:
    One continuous steel strip that keeps everything inline.
    (Campaign strategy, Single Universally Recognised Thought, The Big idea).

    The Rising Butt Hinge.
    (The Pelvic joint of a Grilla reaching for Bananas).

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    Hi Dave,

    At yesterday’s Battle of Britain 70th Anniversary celebrations, HRH Prince Charles mentioned how Nazi Bombers would use The Mall as a bomb alley for Buckingham Palace. Apparently one bomb hit the Palace but never exploded. The curious thing is they took the bomb out on a stretcher. These are the points where radical commonsense touches a pressure point. At Grey they used to call them Brand Muscles. Another programme on the Battle of Britain last night explained how Dowding was the mastermind behind the first Analog Internet. The UK Radar Early Warning System was the first of its kind anywhere in the world. This proves the internet is nothing new. It’s just how we use it that has revolutionsed its use making us all prey to unknown predators. EG: The Rising Butt Hinge comment seems to have have excited a few loose screws from the ethernet for D.I.Y. enthusiasts. We all see the world in a different way.

    If we take the Trim Tab effect and Pressure Points as an explanation of how the Hinge Factor works, perhaps ther’es a case history in the Battle of Britain.

    In spite of our WW2 RAF Analog Internet, British airfields were still being bombed into non-existence. Churchill knew he could not sustain an Air Force for much Longer.
    That was the RAF’s pressure point.

    On another programme last night about the Wellington Bomber, it was explained that Churchill was furious when a couple of Nazi Bombers bombed the outskirts of London. That was Churchill’s pressure point.

    Churchill then decided to turn the whole game around by sending Wellingtons to Bomb Berlin. This infuriated the Germans. That was Hitler and Goering’s pressure point.

    All this it happened just as Molotov (Russia) was visiting the German High Command to secure a peace pact to buy Russia time to build an Army. Stalin’s pressure point.

    Molotov, was told just before the raid that “Britain was of no consequence”. He told the German’s, “So why am I hearing bombs falling on Berlin as we sit here talking?”

    The trim tab effect works when all the pressure points are in alignment, and that is when the rudder moves. Hitler bombed London, the Airfields recovered. The RAF won, London soaked up the constant pressure of the Blitz and the rudder moved. British opinion consolidated, Hitler invaded Russia, and the whole course of World War 2 changed.

    Like you’ve said before. It’s in the detail.
    The big picture comes by bringing all the little bits together.
    This one was started by Yourself,
    a comment from HRH Prince Charles,
    a lot of help from yesterday’s TV programmers,
    and some lazy git vegging-out in front of a TV set.
    The important thing isn’t: Who does what.
    The importand thing is: It gets done.

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    Hi Misha,
    I appreciate what you said, it’s just that I can’t always understand the language that universities require undrgrads to write a thesis in.
    Bertrand Russell, like most maths-based philosophers, moves via logic into the language of algebra, that’s when I bail out.
    As a copywriter, I always think it’s my job to take complicated things and make them simple.
    To put them in the language of the person listening/reading.
    But I do agree with you about always questioning.
    As you know, scepticism is the basis of British philosophy: Locke, Berkeley, Hume.
    Questioning is always good, just do it in monosyllable, so dopes like me can understand.

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    Dave, I bailed at the exact same point! After first year it stopped being about what we were discussing, or even the way we were discussing, and just about whether it was technically right. I got completely bored and left to go back to art college.

    Sorry if I was left with a bit of poncey language, not intentional!

    I find getting the audiences tone right is the hardest thing to do, but the most important. Will keep practicing!

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    Dope?
    That’s not what The Times says about you on the back of your book.

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    Sorry Dave, philosophy essays were all about writing your ideas in the most clear and concise way. That of course meant using one long word where three could equally do the job. But in that scenario, you know your audience (the lecturer) will know the long word. So you don’t have to worry about appealing to a wide readership.
    The opposite of advertising.

    I think in my comment i just wanted to pin down what ‘big picture’ meant in this thread and make sure it wasn’t being used in two different ways at the same time – for clarity’s sake.

    Maybe we should go back to talking about page 3, eh Dave!

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    Hi Thomas,
    I went to a really interesting talk by Rory Sutherland the other night.
    He talked about the difference between Clock thinking and Cloud thinking.
    I think the former is university thinking and the latter is art school.
    I want to write something about that, either here or on the agency blog, soon.

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    I think it helps to be unhinged.

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    Spot on John.
    I couldn’t work where I am if I wasn’t.