"Account planning exists for the sole purpose of creating advertising that truly connects with consumers. While many in the industry are still dissecting consumer. Download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd A Guide to Creating Great Ads), Luke Sullivan Truth, Lies, arid Advertising: The Art of Account Planning, Jon . Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning ~ Jon Steel. A Review by: Ryan White, PID: July 18, JOMC – Principles of.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: Steel, Jon. Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning. Jon Steel. p. cm. — (Adweek books). To help you learn psychology on your own, Psychology: A Self-Teaching Guide Following each section there are one or se. in Advertising, advertisers have for Truth, lies & advertising. lesforgesdessalles.info The Surpisingly Simple Truth.
Perhaps they feel that a complex problem deserves a complex answer, and that somehow if they choose the solution that has people in a room nodding their heads and saying, "Duh! No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted under Sections or of the United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate percopy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA , , fax And if they are not working with agency creatives. While the process of solving advertising problems is never easy. With remote control units permanently trained on everycommercial break, radios on for background noise, and peo-ple flicking randomly through magazines, the majority ofthose potential exposures just vaporize. In my first year working in the United States, I oncenaively suggested that a commercial my agency had pro-duced might play well in movie theaters.
While watching the commercial. What about the music? What about the pictures? What about the main character? What about the other characters? What about the words they spoke? What about the narrator's voice?
What about the tagline? Opinions are given and reported as numbers. They were completely useless. Director of Studies of the British I.
Robert M. Here's an example of the damage that an efficiency mindset can wreak. The failure to meet these targets was punished very severely. In fact. Pirsig wrote that "the traditional scientific method has always been at the very best. Under Stalin's drive to increase industrial output.
One factory that produced nails was given an especially difficult target to reach. The problem was solved by producing fewer.
It's good for seeing where you've been. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. We're merely trying to avoid doing them wrong. Because these words imply the unpredictable. Robert Oppenheimer. James Watson.
The Scientific Method in science will show that they made their discoveries precisely by ignoring the traditional method. Watson's "human events. To them. And J. For example. Niels Bohr. Ideas are dissected until every component part is understood. Advertising in general is not liked or trusted. We have all seen the advertising that results.
From that grew the theory of quantum mechanics. If they did. The models and methods that have dictated the development of advertising campaigns for decades are clearly not working. Many of the same circumstances that led to the birth of quantum theory. Consumers are passive recipients of both research and advertising. In the early twentieth century. Research fails to make the connections that are necessary to explain the attitudes and behavior of target consumers.
New Advertising then very hard to put back together so that they work as a living. But you must also understand and. New Model. Donella Meadows. If quantum theory were to be applied directly to advertising.
New Science. I would prefer to leave the specific scientific discussion of the application of quantum theory to the scientists some references are given at the end of this book and instead focus on some direct parallels in the advertising philosophies and practices on which this book is based.
This requires a change in both philosophy and methodology. A new model for advertising is necessary that is based on the understanding that consumers are people and recognizes that people are inherently complex. Quantum physicists have proven that environment affects the outcome of research and that the simple act of conducting an experiment affects the situation that it is setting out to observe.
People from different disciplines work in parallel. Where are they? Who are they with? What sort of mood does that put them in? All of those "relationships" will affect the person's receptivity to.
And that subjective. In advertising. The best advertising solutions often emerge out of a situation of apparent chaos. It would also suggest that the risk and uncertainty that so many advertisers currently expend a great deal of energy trying to avoid. People do not see a typeface. I discuss this at greater length in later chapters. Many agencies would agree.
Quantum theory would support my earlier arguments that the best advertising is informed by as many points of view as possible. Writing about the music business in.
Environment matters. I am sure. Chance is not to be feared but encouraged. Believe me. Although I at times draw direct links to new scientific thinking. Chance plays a critical role in the combination of people who are thrown together to create a campaign. In the course of this book. Some opportunities are one time only. Let it suffice to say that many of the themes that have been raised in this chapter will crop up again and again in the pages that follow.
I explore all of these parallels and propose a new way of looking at. While the process of solving advertising problems is never easy.
I do not wish to belabor the point. George Orwell once defined advertising as "the rattling of a stick in a swill bucket. Chris Heath observed that "it is not the plans you think up that make the difference. Now imagine for a moment the way a homeless person's sign might look if the writer belonged to the Newtonian school of advertising. This credits the passer-by with some intelligence.
It's amazing how so much meaning can be packed into four small words. I'm willing to work to get out of this mess. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area. That's why they're asking for help. In this school. There is one sign that I see perhaps more than any other: It then addresses. Advertising is a simple form of communication.
The mention of food also deals with another prejudice. It's being hungry. I think that at its heart. Faint at the sight of a needle. That's a good start. The Newtonian research director. I need your money. This in turn raises the question of whether these prejudices can be addressed directly.
I need money. The sign is still lacking. On the wagon. So the passers-by are left in no doubt as to either the situation or the desired response. I need your money now. Where's the call to action? Where's the sense of urgency? Perhaps the addition of another word would help: I'm homeless.
People reading that sign on the street could sympathize with the sign holder's predicament but not be clear what was expected of them. It clearly states the problem and the need.
The copy test comes back. That could be solved by the simple addition of one word that would give the communication some I'm homeless.
But it reads like a demand. I return to that issue in Chapters 4 and 5. By raising the issues of cigarettes. I want to finish with two more examples of signs that I have seen on the streets of San Francisco that certainly stand out for being different. It's a problem faced by many advertisers: The solution seems clear. Suddenly the execution itself may have to define the difference between competing products. One sign on Broadway proclaimed: Both assume a level of intelligence and understanding on the part of passers-by.
They simply use a kind of reverse psychology to get there. They know that we know they're homeless. All of the above examples are feasible solutions. And maybe it is trying a little too hard. A more direct. Just give it. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to suggest that they are advertising in the Howard Gossage style.
Need fuel for Lear Jet. As soon as I smiled. I need a beer. I gave him five bucks and wished him a safe flight. I have no idea why it affected me the way it did. Only the words were unusual.
Bad media placement. The man holding the sign was clearly homeless. But only a week later. I was amused.
He was not playing a musical instrument or using a cat or dog to attract sympathy. This time I was on foot. It had been. Lord Esher. Lord Hailsham. As steep as it was. The commercial station. To this day I know many people who would much rather stick hot needles in their eyes than open the door to a salesperson.
It took the British many years to learn to tolerate advertising. What was it? The launch. So the object of their dismay. Attitudinal data tracked over many years shows that the dislike and suspicion with which many Britons regarded advertising have been eroded.
It would probably be shocking to most Americans to realize that in Britain today. To Bernbach. He believed that execution. That simple aim could usually be accomplished by a talking-head presenter. The creative revolution that he inspired in the United States in the s and s. Advertising is not just being passively consumed in Britain. Beating Back Caliban advertising that customarily precedes the movie trailers and the main feature.
Bernbach's creative advertising was resisted by many in the research industry and feared by many clients. Some even dubbed DDB's famous campaigns for Volkswagen. So what happened? It may sound strange. While Bernbach talked of "the power of an idea. The influence of the great DDB campaigns of the fifties and sixties was felt all over the world. I had applied to BMP for a place on their account management training program. Bernbach was a powerful inspiration to many individuals and agencies who today are doing some of America's best advertising.
The lessons they learned from Bernbach's success were about simplicity. I was still a student at Nottingham University and was searching for a job in an advertising agency. Michael Hockney. Michael asked me whether I had ever con-. I was further confused when at the end of our chat. That discipline became known as account planning. In the hour we spent together. And in the vanguard of this British creative movement. The dimensions on which they would have scored very highly were presumably not considered important enough to bother evaluating.
He talked about the late Stanley Pollitt. The High Priest sidered account planning as a possible career. I had pictured myself. His question. I could hardly refuse. Through a thick cloud of cigarette smoke it was London in the early s. Chris painted an almost paradoxical picture of. What I didn't tell him was that the word research at the end of the description's first paragraph had stopped me wanting to find out more.
I replied that I didn't really know enough about it to be able to answer his question. Chris answered my questions. I had to admit that I was rather ignorant.
I had read in BMP's recruitment literature that the agency had pioneered the discipline when it opened its doors in He also added that when planners researched rough creative ideas every single TV execution produced by the agency was pretested in animatic form in group discussions.
Pollitt had passed away a few years before. In the years that I later worked at BMP. I could understand how the "relevant" part applied. He agreed that it was. Pollitt's sparring partners were the clients and research methodologies that in his view acted as barriers to effective advertising. For BMP. Seldom seen after lunchtime without a glass of claret in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
At BMP. Martin Boase. I had a very strong feeling that whoever was the agency's Director of Planning had to be something of a high priest. Pollitt could be so argumentative that legend has it that his partner. In either group discussions or depth one-on-one interviews. The High Priest figuring out how to make an idea better.
Chris began by describing the in-person research conducted by planners to develop a relationship with members of their consumer constituency. Virtually none of the agency's clients had their own research departments.
BMP's planners did all of their research for them. What he was describing certainly sounded more interesting than I had imagined. Whereas traditional agency researchers tended to be more reactive and bound by the literal findings of their research.
They had the logical. Nonadvertising issues? Gabe Massimi. It had not always been that way — only 20 years earlier. Stanley Pollitt wrote an article for the British advertising magazine Campaign. The opportunities for most planning agencies to get directly involved in nonadvertising issues are few and far between. The chronology seems to be that Stanley experimented with the idea at Pritchard Wood Partners. I was convinced that it was the last job I would want to do in an agency.
I just couldn't shake off the image of clipboards and pocket protectors. That night. How did you end up as a planner? John Webster. As charming and intelligent as Cowpe was. Later that year. There's even a new pressure group called the Account Planning Group. But in an attempt to clear up some of the confusion that existed in Britain in For Pollitt and King alike.
And facilities for analyzing data were becoming more sophisticated and more cheaply accessible. A Professional Pain in the Ass King. Unfortunately there is considerable confusion over what the terms mean. I've been able to track down about ten agencies currently using them. He began his Campaign article with the observation that " 'Account Planning' and 'account planners' have become part of agency jargon over recent years.
That has serious implications for both the way that these planners work and the degree to which they are truly able to affect the outcome of their clients' advertising. Such a discussion is pertinent to the present-day American advertising business because. There had been a time. Walter Thompson in Pollitt simply "borrowed" the name. As an account person. He was charged with ensuring that all the data relevant to key advertising decisions should be properly analyzed. As the new data began to flow.
He should be there as of right. This seemed wrong to him. A small number of researchers remained but tended to be called in to advise on particular research problems on an ad hoc basis. Obviously all this was decided in close consultation with account man and client. Thus it was in that Pollitt. I can't say how grand their planners' strategic insights may be. Walter Thompson. The next day. Whatever tweaking was being done.
A Professional Pain in the Ass A few years back. Here there was a slight parting of the ways between the BMP and JWT "schools" of planning — BMP came to place much more emphasis on the role played by planners in working with creative teams and researching rough creative ideas.
I remember Rich Silverstein introducing me to a client visiting the agency for the first time as hi "conscience. BMP consistently took top honors at creative award shows.
Planners were thus involved not only in strategic development. A person's conscience doesn't always tell them what they want to hear. Clients regard it as a tool that will help make their advertising more effective. But since then. In July My own agency's successful pitch for the Sega video game business was one of those featured. In the abstract.
Adweek magazine published an article entitled "The Knights of New Business. They remain. I have begged to differ with both Mr. Chiat's now-famous statement and the message of the Ad week piece. Jay is half right. And it was the same campaigns that were winning at both. Because if the agency has a true planning philosophy. In my view. If the individual planner making the presentation is compelling.
Under such circumstances. But that is relative to the inevitable hour of agency self-promotion. Its planners are being smart about their strategic research. And while many agencies can talk a good game.
That decision is not likely to be made based on what the agency says on the day of the presentation. The whole agency. Not always necessarily agreed with. Using both consumer research and planners in this way is usually the fastest way to remove the trust that is the basis of the planner's power. In truth. And contrary to what some agencies appear to believe. If only it were that easy. There are some agencies who use planners extensively at the front end of the process to gather intelligence.
Getting it right being more important than maximizing agency profits. What both parties often mean is that "consumer opinion matters when it endorses my own. I would argue that its greatest contribution is indirect.
This may sound like very bad business. It is worth noting that at the time he wrote this. If you got the advertising right. If they are going to have the necessary command of all the data relevant to a particular piece of business and be able to conduct their own research besides.
The distinction. Pollitt reasoned. The second prerequisite for successful planning is that the agency commits the resources to allow planners to be more than temporary role players. This meant that until advertising actually ran. I worked on a campaign at BMP where the process of getting the advertising right.
The client trusted the agency to do the right thing. The account director brings more of a business perspective. And if they are not working with agency creatives. If they are not attending client meetings. The client also needs to regard the account director. Pollitt regarded the two as equal partners. Creatives will soon enough start to regard them as "internal clients. The relationship between planner and account director is worthy of further comment.
If planners are stretched between too many accounts. Both have a common aim. If they are not spending enough time with consumers. I consider that I am working for the account director. I have always thought of the ideal relationship between the two in the same way as the working relationship between a copywriter and art director. As previously noted. Many consumers do not always say what they really feel.
I believe very strongly that consumer opinion is sometimes not the most important element. Having said that. This isn't my being charitable or overly democratic. In the face of such prejudice. Once consumer response becomes the most important element in making final advertising judgments. I would like to add a final implication or prerequisite of my own. This is where I disagree with Pollitt's point.
The final point that Pollitt made about the implications of planning for an agency is that. If the account director is truly running the show. I am certain that most planners prefer to fade into the background once in a while to do their thinking.
I agree that consumer response is probably the most important element. I have always thought that the reason it took hold and was so suc-. Fallon McElligott. John Hegarty. Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Wieden and Kennedy's Nike campaign. Their influence rubbed off on their respective departments.
David Abbott. There seems to be a very strong correlation between a creative person's level of talent and confidence. John would say that 'planning' is very far from perfect — but like 'democracy. Abbott Mead Vickers. Lee Clow. Stanley Pollitt said of his relationship with Webster. Pat Burnham and Bill Westbrook. That's not to say that the people named above and those who work in their creative departments never resist direction or argue with a planner's point of view I have had lively arguments myself with three of the names on that list.
I have very mixed feelings. Two Bombs on the Same Plane On the one hand it is gratifying to receive public recognition for one's role in the development of a famous and effective campaign.
The current "cult of the planner" in U. But there are other attributes that. All of those. In the examples of my own agency's work that I cite in the following chapters Sega and Norwegian Cruise Line included.
Steel shows the pitfalls of misguided research and creative arrogance as he explains that a good business-oriented account planner can help produce wonderfully effective, often simple, ad campaigns.
His witty, erudite book concludes with its best case study: Planning is essential for any complex project, including constructing a successful ad campaign. However, many ad agencies neglect the account planning function when they embark on expensive, time consuming creative efforts to solve business problems.
This lack of planning may be one reason that effective advertising is such a high-risk business proposition. Account planning, however, may mitigate these business risks.
Planners link strategic research, creative approaches and consumer opinions in a process that strengthens the brand and builds the client's corporation. If this is done right, the agency benefits, too, because it can create better ads and, thus, attain a larger, more loyal client base.
Building a successful account planning department starts with an agency-wide commitment that ads should be effective at all costs, including the effort of getting consumer feedback about ad content. The three lines should intersect,ideally at a single point, but most often they will form a smalltriangle.
If its a single point, thats exactly where you are onthe map. If its a triangle, youre somewhere inside it, and 1 But it doesnt worktoo well in a desert, and the reason it does not is the point ofthis story. Triangulation needs three landmarks to work, andmost deserts just dont have the landmarks. Maybe theres afar-off mountain, but if thats all you can see, its useless. Itallows you to know which direction to walk, but you have noidea how far. It could be 10 miles, or it could be Twolandmarks are better than one, but there is still a huge mar-gin for error.
Three are needed to work properly. I mention that because in most fields of human endeavor,the chances of finding a solution or uncovering the truth areincreased as more perspectives are taken into account.
Acommercial that was produced in Britain in the midsillustrates this point quite graphically see Figure 1. Produced by Boase Massimi Pollitt, a London advertis-ing agency, for The Guardian newspaper, this commercial wasshot in grainy black and white, more like a documentarythan a commercial.
With the exception of a simple voice-over, it is silent. It opens on a slow-motion scene of a rough-looking skinhead sprinting down the sidewalk of a dullterrace in an old industrial town. A car slows menacingly atthe end of the street, perhaps in pursuit.
A woman, standingon her doorstep, flinches as the skinhead runs past her, anda calm, matter-of-fact voice-over says, "An event, seen fromone point of view, gives one impression. Theskinhead darts past the woman, and this time we see that hesheaded toward an old man, who is wearing a long overcoatand hat and carrying a briefcase.
The old man raises hisbriefcase to defend himself as the thug makes a grab for him. Figure 1. We see that right above the old man,who is completely oblivious to the fact, a large tray of bricksis being hoisted up the side of a building. It is swaying dan-gerously, and the skinhead has spotted it. He races down thestreet. The voice-over continues, "but its only when you getthe whole picture that you truly understand whats goingon.
The commercial fades to black, and the name of thenewspaper appears, still in silence. The wholepicture. Sadly, John never heardif it helped secure an acquittal, but if so, it would have madefor a very unusual advertising effectiveness paper. That story is an interesting example of the broader appli-cations of the idea that without perspective, nothing is certain.
Its true in journalism, and if you read any good detectivenovel, watch a courtroom drama on the big screen, or take anyinterest in military history, you will see a similar process of tri-angulation being used by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters, bydetectives to solve their cases, by attorneys to get convictions,and by generals to win battles. It is the premise of this chapter,and indeed of the rest of the book, that the same methods ofanalysis are fundamental to success in advertising.
In simple terms, there are three important perspectivesthat advertising should embrace: The very best advertising represents a A Joining the Dotssuccessful collaboration between all three of these parties andpoints of view, but, when any one of those perspectives isallowed to dominate at the expense of the others, the qualityand effectiveness of the campaign will surely suffer. Not as a reel of commercials, or as beauti-fully framed magazine ads on a wall in the agency, but ratheras a tiny reaction in someones head after seeing, hearing, orreading that advertising.
For him, advertising is merely ameans to a desired end—a person thinking or behaving differ-ently. Jeff believes that everything an agency does should begeared toward getting into peoples heads to figure out whatthey currently think and understand how best to influencethem. I like this definition because it encapsulates all three of theperspectives I previously mentioned, giving each a clear role. The pivotal perspective is that of the consumers, in whoseheads the real work of the advertising will be done.
Theiropinions have to be understood before they can be manipu-lated, and consumer research is meant to unlock the hiddentruths that may define the nature and content of the message.
As for the message itself, the role of creativity is to gain entryto consumers minds and act as a catalyst for the desiredthought process and change of opinion or behavior. And theclients business, or commercial, perspective defines the pre-cise action that consumers are to be asked to take.
That process is seldom, however, as straightforward as itshould be. The most effective advertising involves consumers in twodifferent, but equally critical, ways. First, it needs to involvethem in the process of developing the communication. Theirfeelings, habits, motivations, insecurities, prejudices, anddesires all have to be explored to understand both how the 5 This exploration of the con-sumer mind for information and inspiration will form thefocus of the rest of the book, starting later in this chapterwith some philosophical and methodological barriers tomany agencies and clients making the necessary connectionswith consumers.
Some agencies and individuals are arrogantenough to assume that they dont need to have a relationshipwith consumers or know anything about them before theytalk to them. I can only assume that these are the kind ofpeople who, on a vacation in France, would converse withFrench people by speaking English, very slowly, and veryloudly.
And some clients, while they agree that it isabsolutely essential to "have a dialog" with consumers, arehung up on methodologies that make such a relationshipimpossible. More on that subject later. The second way that consumers need to be involved inadvertising is in the communication itself.
In other words,advertising works better when it does not tell people what tothink, but rather allows them to make up their own mindsabout its meaning. They participate by figuring it out forthemselves. Rich Silverstein likes to use the analogy of thosejoining-the-dots games that we all played as children, whereyou draw a line from numbered dot to numbered dot, andwhen youve finished you have a picture of, say, a warthog. In Silversteins view, its not advertisings job to tell peopleits a warthog.
It should simply join up a few of the dots forits audience and leave the rest for them to join for them-selves, thus allowing them to participate.
Leaving something to the audiences imagination is not awidely embraced concept in the advertising industry. Inspired by, among others, Claude Hopkins Advertising Sci-ence and Rosser Reeves Reality in Advertising, advertisershave for years been telling their audience what to think, thentelling them again and again, each time louder than the last,all under the assumption that the target audience is so dumb 6 Joining the Dotsthat they need to be slapped in the face with the message iftheyre going to get it.
Howard Gossage was one of the first advertising mento make a stand against the one-way diatribes that formedthe bulk of the industrys output. Four decades ago, he wasespousing the principle of advertising as two-way commu-nication and creating campaigns that were designed toengender relationships and interaction with his target con-sumers.
I have always regarded advertisingas being like a person that you meet at a party. You meet, youdecide very quickly whether you like him or her, and if youdo, you stay and listen to what the individual has to say. Ifyou dont, you spot a long-lost friend on the other side of theroom and move on. Your new acquaintance could have givenyou the most important piece of information you ever heard,but if he or she had already bored you or insulted you, thenyou would not be around to hear it.
So it is with advertising. Thirty seconds on television. A few seconds when a person isflicking through the magazine. Thats all the time there is tocreate a connection and engage a person sufficiently forthem to pay attention to the message.
How do you do that? By adopting the same human char-acteristics that make a stranger at a party seem attractive andinteresting: By asking questionsinstead of making statements. Gossage wrote that "Our first duty is not to the old salescurve, it is to the audience," and recognized that many in theindustry would regard these words as heretical. But as herightly pointed out, "Any salesman will get it right off thebat. They are used to regarding their audience first and fore-most, because if they dont please them, they wont get the 7 Gossages advertising was ahead of its time, engaging,and effective.
Three decades before the word interactivebecame hot, he was putting coupons in his ads, partly so thathe could measure their effect, but primarily because hewanted to initiate a dialog between his customers and hisclients. Perhaps the first to express the ideal of "consumerparticipation" in advertising, Gossage was fond of quotingfrom a short story of Sakis to make his point that too manyadvertisers told people what to think and left them no oppor-tunity to form their own opinions: In baiting a trap with cheese, always leave room for the mouse.
When I talk about advertising to groups of students, oreven agency professionals, I often ask them to think about thetimes when, as kids, they wanted to ask their parents formoney, or as adults, they wanted to ask someone out on a date or something like that. Anyway, how did they approach theproblem? What worked? What didnt? Most people agree that a simple statement of ones inten-tions has the odds stacked against it, and a demand that yourparents hand over the cash or that the lady or gentleman inquestion gives you his or her heart or body before evenknowing your name is unlikely to yield either financial orromantic satisfaction.
In the end, the majority agree that theonly way to increase your chance of success is to mentally 8 Love, Money, Pigs, and Beerstep out of your shoes and into theirs. Im not talking aboutsome kind of cross-dressing shoe fetish here, but ratherabout the ability to figure out the other persons hot buttons.
What do they think of you? What is currently stopping themfrom writing you a check or falling into your arms? Whatcould you do or say to remove those barriers? And most sig-nificant of all everyone I have ever discussed this withagrees that this is a surefire winner , what could you do orsay to make your parents decide for themselves that they wantto give you a spot bonus, or cause the object of your wildestdreams to develop an uncontrollable crush on you? Anyone who can figure out that kind of strategy willdoubtless enjoy a phenomenally successful career in adver-tising.
By the same logic, of course, as a complete loser in thedating department, I should probably resign my own posi-tion immediately. Another story that illustrates the same point was relatedto me a few years ago by a man I met in Hawaii, whose ideaof relaxation was to go out into the rain forest and hunt wildpigs, armed only with a knife.
Youvegot to think like they think, move like they move, and havethe same instincts for safety and danger. That,he said, was altogether a much more difficult feat to pull off.
I believed him. Leo Burnett once said that "if you cant turn yourselvesinto a consumer, then you shouldnt be in the advertisingbusiness at all," and it is true that the best advertising peoplehave the same instincts in relation to consumers that my pig-hunting acquaintance described, albeit without the violentfight at the end. In a later chapter I will make the point that 9 A young creative team in London once told me, as I wasbriefing them for a beer advertising campaign, that theydidnt need any help from me because they knew "every-thing there is to know about beer.
Three, four maybe. Just as I thought. Porsches parked outside. People dressed in black. Lots ofkissing on the cheeks once on the left, once on the right, andonce more on the left to be properly European. High-octane, designer French premium lager, drunk slowly anddecorously straight from the bottle, with label positioned forall to see and little finger outstretched.
Oh, they were right. It all sounded absolutely likeSimonds bitter. Simonds was a cheap and relatively weakale, drunk only in pints and sold almost exclusively in Welshworkingmens clubs to guys who had just come off their shiftin the coal mines or steel mills.
It was hot, heavy work, andthey needed a light, refreshing pint that they could drink inlarge volume. I frequently came across people in focusgroups and on pub-and-club visits who would quite happilyconsume 15 pints of the stuff after work. The size of theirbellies corroborated their stories. If the creative team hadwalked up to the bar in one of these places and asked for 10 Art for Arts Sake" Okay, so they needed to be briefed, and thankfully, theyobliged.
And in the end, with the exception of a small hiccupover a radio script that seemed to many, including the networkcensors, to have connotations of bestiality sheep jokes do notgo over big in Wales , they hit the spot with the drinkers. Preferring not to make alengthy speech, he said only a few words before showing areel of his work and inviting questions from the audience.
After a few innocuous comments and questions relatingto techniques, directors, and the like, one young man spokeup. Theres always a lot of product. The logos big. Most ofthe creative people I know fight to cut down the amount oftime given to the product and do everything to keep the logosmall. Why is it different in your commercials?
Do you dothat of your own accord, or do your clients make you do it? Well, were not artists, as much as wemight like to be. We are in the business of selling products.
And thats my responsibility to my clients. I incorporate theproduct as artfully as I can, but if I dont center the ad onthat product, however creative or entertaining it is, Im wast-ing my time and their money. An agencys art has to be a means to an end, and that end,like it or not, is commercial in nature. Art is a vehicle thatcan make an ad more distinctive, more memorable, and at itsbest, carry a message in such a way that it will be more effec-tive in influencing its audience.
But thats only at its best, andit only happens when its creator, like Webster, knows thatthe artistic and commercial elements have to live together inan almost symbiotic relationship. If one starts to dominateat the expense of the other, the relationship becomes moreparasitic than symbiotic, and its effectiveness, both in theshort and long term, will be compromised.
In May , Ronald Reagan delivered a speech to therecipients of the National Medal of Arts, in which he saidthat "in an atmosphere of liberty, artists and patrons are freeto think the unthinkable and create the audacious; they arefree to make both horrendous mistakes and glorious celebra-tions, " and to those who see advertising as an art form, thosewords must seem like sweet music. Some writers and art directors, and indeed some entireagencies, believe that the real power of advertising lies intheir art, and that if they were truly free to create, they couldbreak the rules, be audacious, and although they may strikeout once in a while, they would hit some towering and mem-orable home runs.
And sometimes they are successful. There is, however, one substantial problem. The freedomof which Reagan spoke was not just celebrated by artists,but by patrons, too. Unfortunately, advertisings "patrons,"better known as the clients who control multimillion-dollaradvertising budgets, tend not to be too wild about swingingfor the fences and are unlikely to risk their companies mar-keting budgets, market share, profitability, stock price, and 12 Art for Arts Sakeultimately their own jobs, on the word of a twentysomethingwith tattoos and a nose ring, saying "trust me.
At times like this, names like Michelangelo, StephenSpielberg, and John Lennon often get bandied around asevidence that art is a powerful force and that it is at its mostpowerful when the creator has total freedom. Would the roofon the Sistine Chapel be so glorious if Michelangelo hadexperienced the kind of interference that has characterizedthe development of this particular advertising campaign?
Would Schindlers List have been three hours long if the mar-keting people had had their way? Would Sergeant Pepper haveever made it through copy testing? I dont think were really comparing apples to appleshere. For a start, people choose to experience art, movies, andmusic, whereas advertising is forced on them. The audiencefor pure art is self-selecting, but advertising has to find themand draw them in.
And when it does, it does not have time onits side to make its point. Spielberg has hours to draw hisaudience in. The Sistine Chapel can take as long as it likes. And is there really any such thing as "pure" art? Can youreally imagine the Pope of the time giving Michelangelo anunlimited budget, no time constraints, and no idea of atheme?
Sur-prise me. Or when he casually added that he wanted toshoot entirely in black and white. The grass on the otherside, where the true artists live, might not be as green assome of us would like to believe.
Its perhaps not surprising that some agency creativesprefer to think of themselves as artists rather than businesspeople. Many of them have artistic backgrounds and inter-ests, and if the truth is really known, they would probablyprefer to spend the rest of their days painting, sculpting, or 13 Some have the nagging feeling that they haveprostituted themselves by abandoning these worthier pur-suits in favor of the security and salary that comes with a jobin advertising.
While the more realistic among them simplybite their lips and promise themselves that their advertisingcareers are just layovers on the way to these better things,others try and make the advertising the outlet for their artis-tic and literary ambitions. In Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy denounced the"noisy lunatics on the fringes of the advertising business,[whose] stock-in-trade includes ethnic humor, eccentric artdirection, and their self-proclaimed genius," and on manyother occasions attacked those whose pursuit of advertisingas a pure art form got in the way, as he saw it, of selling prod-ucts.
Having said that, he once admitted that he had to exor-cise his own "pseudoliterary pretensions" in the early part ofhis career before finally realizing that he needed to focus on"the obligation of advertising to sell.
Every year, there are numerous award shows that recognizethe industrys most creative advertising; individuals andteams who create the most distinctive new campaigns arewidely celebrated. Success in the award shows is translatedinto offers of better jobs and better money with better agen-cies, so it is hardly surprising that certain creative peoplestruggle to maintain the "artistic integrity" of their ideas andregard the input of others, particularly consumers, as a sure-fire way of undermining that integrity.
If they give in, theyreason, their campaign will be compromised and with it, lessdirectly, their own careers. Unfortunately, many clients regard creative awards sim-ply as an agency indulgence. Awards do benefit clientsthough, albeit indirectly, by ensuring that the top creativetalent is able to work on their advertising.
If the best creative 14 Fighting Art with Sciencepeople in the agency are winning awards for their work, thenthey will be less likely to want to work somewhere elsewhere they might not win awards. If they do get poachedaway, then talented creatives on the outside will see theawards that the agency is winning and want to come and getsome of the action. In short, awards keep an agencys cre-ative gene pool healthy and productive.
Another important consideration is that there is no rea-son why the art or creativity that seems so distinctive to theCannes or One Show judges should not be equally com-pelling to members of the target audience.
Every year at theCannes advertising festival, Donald Gunn of Leo Burnettmakes a presentation of the top creative award-winningcampaigns from around the world that have combined thesecreative awards with clearly demonstrable results in themarketplace, and many of the campaigns that are featuredlater in this book have achieved the same double.
I am not suggesting for one moment that art is not a vitalcomponent of advertising, for it is in the art that advertisingstrue magic lies. I am merely suggesting that art alone is notenough, and when it is allowed to overpower strategic andbusiness considerations, it can be an obstacle rather than anaid to persuasion. Rich Silverstein has said to me on many occasions that itis this juxtaposition of art and commerce that really interestshim about advertising and keeps on challenging him.
In hisview, it is much easier to produce art than it is to produce artthat sells, and the philosophy and process that are necessaryto achieve the latter will be explored thoroughly in laterchapters. No ROOM FOR THE MOUSEdirection, and human relationships, a doctrine has emergedthat defines advertising not as a subjective, intuitive craft,but rather as a logical, rational discipline whose process andproduct can be defined, measured, predicted, and evaluatedaccording to the same criteria and methodologies as thoseemployed in the field of science.
In the first chapter of his famous book, Advertising Science,published in , Claude Hopkins wrote, "The time hascome when advertising has in some hands reached the statusof a science. It is based on fixed principles and is reasonablyexact. The causes and effects have been analyzed until theyare well understood. The correct methods of procedure havebeen proved and established.
We know what is most effec-tive, and we act on its basic laws. Certainlyno other enterprise with comparable possibilities needinvolve so little risk.
These disciples of advertising-as-science consider thattheir raison detre is to bring discipline, predictability, andaccountability to advertising agencies in general, and to cre-ative departments in particular.
They bring with them power-ful credentials undergraduate and postgraduate degrees inmarketing, advertising, statistics, and psychology, not to men-tion the potent Master of Business Administration, or MBA. Armed with impressively thick overhead decks, 95 percentconfidence levels, advertising response models, brand recalland persuasion numbers, and normative data and correla-tions, they wield extraordinary influence at every stage of theprocess.
Against this arsenal of facts, figures, and projections, 16 The Scientific Methodcreative "instinct" and phrases like "trust me" just dont have achance. In the course of the ensuing chapters, I will argue thatthere is a vital role to be played by research in advertising when it is done right , but that to regard advertising as ascience that can be built entirely on facts and measured, evenpredicted, is perilous indeed.
It is perilous not only becauseadvertising and the human mind by their very nature defysuch scientific analysis, but also because those who adhere tothese principles, like many of the "artists" I spoke of before,are basing their philosophy and process on an entirely erro-neous view of how scientists practice science.
Berry, spent the best part of an hour talking about the "sci-entific method. Ackroyd, in hisinaugural address in the acrid environment of the chemistrylab, told us more, and Mr. Surl, the biology teacher, over thecourse of the next week, actually demonstrated it in actionwith the help of some fruit flies.
They all seemed pretty consistent in their definitions.