HOW SHOULD WE JUDGE ANYTHING?

In the thirty years before 1933, Germany won the Nobel Prize 33 times.
The USA only won it 6 times.
But then something changed.
Because, in the next thirty years, Germany only won the Nobel Prize 8 times.
And the USA won it 52 times.
So what happened in 1933?
Adolf Hitler came to power.
He passed a law that only people of pure Aryan race could hold public office.
This meant that 3,000 Jewish professors were dismissed from German universities.
That was 20% of the entire teaching staff.
Mathematicians, physicists, chemists, biologists, all the professors.
Not dismissed for incompetence, dismissed for their race.
Nothing to do with their work.
Hitler wasn’t concerned with their work.
He only wanted Aryan professors teaching German students.
So all those Jewish scientists left Germany for the USA.
Among them were Einstein, Schrodinger, Haber, Teller, and Fermi.
Also two of the most influential in starting the Atomic Bomb project:
Frisch and Peierls.
Luckily for the world, Hitler wasn’t interested in their work.
He was judging something else.
Obviously, what he did was stupid.
But we’re all guilty of that sometimes.
Judging factors other than the quality of the work.
Take the agency pitch situation.
Often clients make a decision based on liking the people.
Or the agency’s location, or the decoration, or the ‘vibe’.
Almost everything except the work.
Personally, I’m a simple person.
I judge something for what it does.
How much I like it, depends on how well it does what it does.
There’s an old saying about advertising.
“No one wants a nail. They want a picture hung on the wall.”
That’s how I am.
All I want is a solution, not a friend.
If I’m ill, I want the doctor who can cure me the quickest.
Not the one with the best bedside manner.
If my car’s broken I want the garage that can fix it fastest.
Not the one that remembers my birthday.
Most pitches occur because the client’s got a problem.
Usually their advertising isn’t working.
So they’ve been told by their boss to get the advertising fixed, quick.
The client knows their job depends on getting the answer right.
So they’re worried.
They’ve got to look at a lot of agencies and spend millions of pounds on a solution that could determine their career.
At this point, I wouldn’t be thinking about who I liked.
I’d be thinking about who I could depend on not to let me down.
That means I’d be looking at the work.
Not at how much they smiled, or how attractive they were, or how stylish, or how trendy, or how charming.
If the advertising doesn’t work none of that matters.
So IMHO, you judge everything on the work.
Luckily for us Hitler didn’t do that.
He depended on people he liked, and that wasn’t enough.
In truth everyone, even consumers, knows that isn’t enough.
Years ago in New York, Chase Manhattan Bank spent a lot of money on an ad campaign.
It showed people shaking hands with the smiley bank staff, waving, and hugging each other.
And throughout, happy music was playing.
At the end came the strapline “You’ve got a friend at Chase Manhattan”.
Shortly afterwards, their competitor, Bankers Trust, ran a different sort of ad.
Their bank manager talks to camera.
He says “If you need a loan, or a better rate of interest, or any serious financial advice, come and see us.
If anyone can help you, we can.
Remember, if you want a friend, get a dog.
You’ll find a banker at Bankers Trust.”

It made Chase Manhattan look so ridiculous that, shortly afterwards, they had to stop running their campaign.

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    Dave, don’t 99.09% of pitches occur because the client has installed a new Marketing Director > The new Marketing Director ‘judges’ their predecessors efforts as crap [not that they’d say it to their predecessors face, of course] > The new Marketing Director then calls a pitch? High churn in MD’s = lot’s of pitches and very little long-term strategy. [PS – Like the Bankers Trust example u’ve used to illustrate your pointy point].

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    so true Dave and i wonder if their ‘ agency friends’ will be as ‘interested in them’ when their business goes down the plug hole due to bad advertising. no romance without finance 🙂

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    It’s true, Grenada hasn’t won a Nobel Prize since I left.

    I like that nail saying, so true. I wrote one. I think it’s about life.

    Don’t order the soup if you’ve pissed off the waiter

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    Made by the once great DDB. Whenever I see anything from that time a teardrop rolls down my face. The pure genius just overwhelms my little creative heart.

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    which brings to mind another fact of life CC. the waiter won’t let you know if or why you’ve pissed him off, he’ll just **** in your soup.

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    wow, references to Gwen Guthrie AND Grace Jones! You certainly bring out the diva in poeple Dave.

    Whoever it was that said you do business with people you like may been onto something. I hope Shcrodinger managed to get his cat out with him.

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    sadly Chris, i have noticed that a lot of ‘transactions’ in life seem to come down to ‘need’ more than like. ultimately, everything in life can be boiled down to need. even if it’s just a cat that makes you feel happy 🙂

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    Chris, Christmas, and Soap Box.
    I don’t know who Gwen Guthrie is, but Grace Jones reminds me of a student we had once on placement.
    She said she worked as a waitress in the evenings.
    Grace Jones was really rude to her, so she did exactly what you said in her coffee when she served it.
    Grace Jojnes drank it witrhout complaint.

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    Great post. Very true. Very sad, but true. It is not about the quality of your work any more – it is about who you are, where you from, what else do you do and who do you know. And your personality and how good you can sell your work. In my opinion, the best work will sell itself and it the rest should not matter.

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    …and it shows in the work Mr Cat. Gwen Guthrie Dave?
    …enjoy 🙂

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mzXWUW19R8&feature=related

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    Thanks Soap Box,
    Always loved the track but I never knew who did it.

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    Work seems to be the last thing anyone actually looks for nowadays. If things were based on soley work then a lot of CD’s would be trawling the placement circuit after resting on their lorells because of an ad they did 10 years ago. The Bi product? Agencies would be overflowing with new young teams all working their bo**ocks off creating outstanding work.

    Unfortunately we live in a world that created Hitler and so

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    Your tag cloud must be amazing.
    A massive Hitler.

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    Daniel, you must live under a rock. Ad agencies ARE overflowing with young teams on placement, all of them working their buttocks off to get offered a job by creating outstanding work.

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    Sultan you’re of course right that agencies are stuffed with with young teams trying to do outstanding work, but this work has to go through the chanels to see the light of day, and today those chanels are not producing good work let alone great work.

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    What do you think why they aren’t producing good work anymore?

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    There’s a revealing stat they trot out at the end of the footy. Total shots and shots on target. Working one’s butt off is commendable but call me old fashioned if I’m a stickler for accuracy.

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    you’re a sweet man Mr T – for all i know you could hate that song 🙂

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    As my Granny used to say. Finding a problem should not be mistaken for solving it.

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    Hi Dave. I am a planner at Lowe, India and I’ve been an avid reader of your blog. I really love your writing and it has influenced me a lot.
    In your last post you stressed the need for a brand and how in a parity situation, brand is the only differentiator. This post on judging things talks about how you should judge work and nothing else. We all know how in certain situations most clients fail to tell a good campaign from a ‘not so good’ one. In those situations, they look for people that they can work comfortably. The agency people are the brand here and most times client chooses that brand rather than the product in question.

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    Hi Ninad,
    “In your last post you stressed the need for a brand and how in a parity situation, brand is the only differentiator.”
    That’s exactly right.
    The important part being “in a parity situation”.
    Where possible you should ignore the brand and always choose the better product (in this case the work).
    If the products (work) are equally good then it’s a “parity situation”.
    Then (and only then) should you choose on brand (emotion).
    Look at every consumer’s behaviour, that’s what we do in any situation.
    If we can we choose a better product (rational choice).
    Only if the products are the same, do we choose the brand we prefer (emotional choice).

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    That’s an interesting point Dave. I was buying hand cream the other day. The dry air in my flat during winters always makes them feel like sandpaper.

    So I walk around at Boots and try to find one real quick. I’m not even concerned with what I’m buying, so I get good old Nivea. Why? Because when everything is the same, you go by brand. But what if the other hand cream is actually better? How would I be able to tell if not by the advertising? Maybe they don’t even do advertising for their cream. Maybe they really do make my hands feel better because of some age old formula, passed down by generations of Inuits. But they don’t bother telling me. Or can’t afford to. No point here, just thinking about whether or not the parity we keep talking about is perceived or objective. Who would seriously sit down and think about the differences in hand cream?

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    Hand cream? Ask a woman

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    Hi Sultan,
    About your point, whether the parity is perceived or objective.
    If the parity is perceived by the consumer, we have to look for an objective difference in the product.
    If we can’t find one then we have objective parity.
    In which case we have to create a perceived difference (brand).in the mind of the consumer.

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    Sultan,
    Fact.
    A chap I work with had facial skin sores.
    People used Petrolium Jelly on his face.
    It always looked Red.
    One day he was given Nivea Hand Cream on his face.
    The skin cleared-up within one day.
    Personally, I always look for Aloe Vera in skin products
    you just can’t beat it.

    Grilla Tip:
    Some hair care products produce dead skin so you can see the dandruff go when you wash your hair.
    Isn’t that amazing?

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    Dave
    Is perception nine tenths of the law?

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    What is more important – the idea or how creatively its executed? In a world where you have to be creative in ever smaller circles, how do pop out the best ideas. And having popped them, how do we keep them alive in their execution….so as to ” hang the picture” not just get excited about the nail. Thats a skill that is hard to find no?