THE ANSWER’S OBVIOUS. AND IT’S WRONG.

My Uncle Fred was a heavy smoker all his life.
All my family were.
Just like everyone else in those days.
As soon as you were old enough to smoke you lit up.
Over the years Uncle Fred’s lungs got worse and worse.
Eventually he had to have an oxygen cylinder at home.
When Uncle Fred started coughing, he coughed so long and hard he couldn’t get his breath.
Eventually, as he sat there gasping for air, he’d pull the oxygen mask over his mouth.
He’d gasp and wheeze it in until eventually he got his breath back.
Then he’d turn off the oxygen cylinder.
And he’d light up a cigarette.
I once said to my dad “Don’t you think Uncle Fred should stop smoking?”
Dad said, “No, it’s the only thing that helps him. He has a fag and it makes him cough all that phlegm off his chest.”
Nowadays we wouldn’t consider that good advice.
Because we see smoking as the cause of the problem.
But they saw it as the cure for the problem.
Tense and nervous, have a cigarette.
Bored and depressed, have a cigarette.
Sore throat, have a cigarette.
Coughs and sneezes, have a cigarette.
They thought the act of smoking was soothing and therapeutic.
Nowadays we know, far from curing it, nicotine can cause or exacerbate tension and depression.
Nowadays we know, far from curing it, tobacco can cause respiratory problems like emphysema and cancer.
What they didn’t see was that the cure was actually the problem.
Luckily we’re more intelligent than that nowadays.
We’d never do anything like that would we?
We’d never confuse the cure with the problem.
Or would we?
Take advertising.
We all know people don’t enjoy advertising as much as they used to.
So the answer’s obvious, isn’t it?
We need more people analysing the advertising.
We know advertising isn’t as funny or entertaining as it used to be.
So the answer’s obvious, we need more focus groups checking and rechecking it.
We know advertising doesn’t get picked up and repeated by the public anymore.
So the answer’s obvious, we need more people refining the messaging and debating every dot and comma.
We know advertising strap lines don’t get sung by school kids, repeated on TV shows, used in newspaper headlines anymore.
So the answer’s obvious, we need more people making sure nobody in advertising is taking any risks.
We know people are getting irritated by constant intrusive messaging.
So the answer’s obvious, find more places to run the messages: online, interactive, new media.
We know people don’t enjoy interacting with advertising as much as they used to.
So the answer’s obvious, get the advertising to them in more interactive channels: social media, Facebook, twitter.

Do you suppose it’s just possible that we may be confusing the cause of the problem with the cure?

  • Agree. Over-analysis and lack of bravery are two big causes. Another is that campaigns are never allowed to run for long enough. The great stuff that’s remembered, sung and quoted always comes from long-term exposure. Not chopping and changing every 3-6 months. Bizarre behaviour.

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    Fair point Chris.
    Often because clients have so much exposure to the advertising befpore it runs, they get bored it with long before the public.
    So while the audience might have an OTS of around 7, the client might have an OTS of around 200.
    That’s why Jim Kelly said client years were like dog years.
    One client year was like 7 human years.

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    Nice one Dave. Reminds me of a great cartoon in Private Eye once. Hollywood execs at a meeting. Caption ‘ What did Hollywood learn from the success of Cameron’s ‘Titanic’? Was it that they should always support the director in executing his unique vision? No. It was ‘Let’s make more films about sinking ships.’

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    Problem:
    Russians lose in Afghanistan.
    Solution:
    Lets go to Afghanistan with a smaller force.

    Problem:
    Advertising isn’t working.
    Solution:
    Run an underground campaign in a Chilean Mine.

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    Been thinking about your point Chris.
    You’re right, lack of consistency just makes the fragmentation problem worse.
    It’s no good doing great ads if no one sees them.
    Jim Kelly also used to tell me the 3 rules of advertising:
    1)Repetition.
    2)Repetion
    3)Repetition

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    I agree – if the advertising is too aggressive, it will cause problems with the acceptance with the message they want to influence.

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    What happened to the errant t, Dave – didn’t drink it, did u? Have these on me – tttttttttttttttttttttts, along with the vowels a,e,i,o,u, + North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Anthony Arctica – i.e. the continents.

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    People are seeing ads, but they’re not seeing them together at the same time. It’s the difference between an atomic bomb and a million skirmishes. There is no overall impact, and so nothing is talked about any more other than cliques of admen talking about so and so’s latest ad, buried online somewhere, or those who remember what it was like to see massive campaigns unleashed like the old BA commercials. It’s all gone underground because the revenue has gone with it. Online works like Cancer. It burrows away undetected and eventually appears to surface after x number of hits. To competitiors it’s guerilla warfare because you can’t see it, and so you can’t respond to it so quickly. But of course, those hits could be anywhere in the world. So you identify a tribe of disparate followers and make them hardcore followers. Great if your customer base is multinational, not so great if you’re a national.

    The recent Smirnoff campaign seems to be doing it’s best to drag the underground out into the open by knitting various groups from around the world to celebrate publicly. They are trying to bring the online gains out into the open to make a public impact. I hope it succeeds. It will be interesting to see what happens, because if it works, it will prove (either way) you cant have major public impact without TV.

    Watching it on TV in the company of others is what is missing.
    How else are people going to talk about it?
    EG: Eurofootball in pubs.
    Now that’s an Event.
    But more importantly, it’s a social occasion.
    Everyone has a memory about it.
    And that’s where advertising should be.
    In the memory.
    And you only get that with repetition.
    Nothing can replace the lived experience.

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    Grilla,
    I purposely left it off so it wouldn’t get too repetetive.

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    all we need are good ideas people will want to spend time with, simple.