A LITTLE LEARNING

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.
Intuition.
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.
Intuitively.
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.
But.
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

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    Marvellous Dave!
    Of course time doesn’t even exist.
    It’s just a human invention made by those who feel uncomforable with freedom.

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    There seems to be lots of ‘head in the clouds’ people about.

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    Exactly Kevin,
    As Sartre said, “We are condemned to be free.”

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    I don’t wear a watch, Kev.
    Does that count?

  • Can’t you be both? I haven’t seen Rory’s talk, but if clock-thought is an overlay; a construct on top of our “natural” clouds, then we just need to shrug it off, step back and observe the wall the clock is on, the house containing the wall, the neighbours, the view,…etc, etc…switching between the two views is half the fun (and most of the challenge) of persuasive communication!

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    Banana thinking:

    A little white cloud appears above my head.

    I consult the clock.

    Ooo, is it that time already?

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    Hi Craig,
    It’s nice to believe that we can be a perfect balance of both.
    But in my experience we are always dominant in one area.
    This isn’t a problem as long as we’re in the right job.
    You wouldn’t want a policeman to be a cloud-thinker, you’d want them to be a clock thinker.
    You wouldn’t want a creative to be a clock thinker, you’d want them to be a cloud thinker.

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    Is the trick, Dave, to identify factors that impact on their thinking such as emotions, stereotyping, irrational thoughts etc and then develop reflective thinking. Obviously it would help if one walked amongst joe public on a regular basis to find that out. Go where they go. Do to some degree what they do. Ideally I would say be one of them. What was it that David Abbott said about how you can’t possibly have a life in advertising if you don’t have a life?

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    John,
    As an art director you probably already are a cloud-thinker.
    Copywriters (by comparison) tend to be more clock-thinkers.
    That’s why Bernbach put them together.
    IMHO, we each need to identify what we are, then look for the opposite.

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    “You wouldn’t want a creative to be a clock thinker, you’d want them to be a cloud thinker.…Copywriters (by comparison) tend to be more clock-thinkers.” Good job you put (by comparison) in, otherwise I would have been scratching my head, Dave.

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    It’s all comparative John.
    Next to most university-trained planners I’m a cloud thinker.
    Next to most art directors I’m a clock thinker.

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    Next to me you look well groomed.

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    It’s a surreal irony Dave.

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M28N3gAQags

    surreal cloud thinking film of the week.

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    Soap Box,
    My favourite line, in that review from Michael Caine’s son, was “Critics are already calling this film dull, pretentious, and too long, but I think that’s missing the point.”

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    i know Dave, it sounds like it could be awful. but it’s actually quite mesmerising to watch. half way through i noticed my jaw had dropped and had to make a conscious effort to close my mouth 🙂

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    Hi Dave you mention ‘big picture’ and ‘detail’ which are NLP terms. Are you a big advocate of this practice?

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    Hi Mick,
    I’m not personally, but Ed Morris is.
    He has been for years.
    He’s fascinated by it and knows everything about it.

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    Tony Buzan talks about linear thinking, and radiant thinking. Linear is A to B, a straight line, deductive and imposed by our educational system: radiant thinking, is where we start at a point and our thought process radiates out in all directions (like ripples in a pond I guess), this is the way our mind naturally works, and the way the neurons in the brain are set up. Radiant thinking is much more creative, giving your mind the freedom to make almost random associations.
    Interestingly he points out that this could be the reason my so many great creative/entrepreneurial people are often dyslexic (not writers of course), the idea being that their dyslexia inhibits their linear thinking (which is why school is a problem) and so allows the radiant thinking to take over.
    Radiant thinking is where you start at one point and our thoughts

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    Thanks Soap Box,
    Here’s an interesting review from the inside of a Candy Floss machine.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwTLqUjgAC8&NR=1

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    that sums it up pretty well Kev – he’s not wrong about Eat, Pray, YAWN too 🙂