"A communicator must be concerned with
unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to
succeed, to love, to take care of his own. It is insight into human
nature that is the key to the communicator's skill." - Bill Bernbach
Last week Nike released its powerful Dream Crazier spot. In a
publication that praised the commercial, there was another article that
said, yep, you guessed it, traditional advertising is dying because
everything is changing.
I began to ask myself a few simple
questions. Where is the work that is replacing this kind of work?
Everybody is talking about it, I just never see it. Also, what is
actually changing? Look at the three commercials below. They span an
entire decade. Ten years. They are all good stories with a human insight
at the centre. Are they really that different? I mean, ten years in
advertising is a lifetime. The answer is no. Because, good stories are
timeless. That's why they are good stories.
got me thinking about our obsession with change. It gives us a weird
amnesia about what has worked and what hasn't in advertising. We are
always searching for the next thing in case we are not seen as
contemporary or modern. Remember the frenzy around Pokemon Go? It was
going to change the world. Google glasses too. Anybody remember Vine?
And just last week, Amazon discontinued dash buttons. I remember being
in Cannes and somebody in cool trainers saying they were the future.
Nobody remembers what anybody said yesterday. We just keep moving
forward. I understand that this happens with innovation. And innovation
is energetic and sexy. What isn't sexy is stuff that is timeless. Things
that don't change. That's a bit boring. So, we don't really talk about
Towards the end of last year, Mark Ritson wrote an article
about marketers being obsessed with the future
used the phrase 'the pornography of change'. This has really stuck in
my head. I think it is a excellent way of explaining our obsession with
new stuff. VR headsets etc. Inherently, in advertising, we believe the
new will always be the correct answer.
I also think a lot of what
comes and goes is the delivery mechanism. The platform. This is
changing a lot and will keep changing. How stuff gets to you and what
data that stuff can generate. What hasn't changed is it has to make you
feel something. As the late great David Abbott once said, it doesn't
matter how fast shit reaches you, it's still shit.
don't want to look at film because you think that is old school. Ok. For
the hell of it, go back to 2007 and look at the Tap Project. Now, look
at few ideas from 2010. Go look at T-Mobile Dance, or The Zimbabwean,
Droga 5's Jay-Z Decoded in 2011, Dove Sketches in 2013 and then look at
Fearless Girl, a recent piece of brilliant work. What you will see is a
whole lot of good work. You will also see how when you have a great idea
time doesn't make much difference. A great idea is a great idea. That's
why they have value.
Delivery and how things integrate is the
place where there are many shifting tectonic plates. And this will
continue to escalate rapidly. However, what that delivery mechanism
serves you has not changed half as much as people make out. If you want a
person's time, you better have something to give them. That was true
yesterday and will be more true tomorrow.
We are a business that
is constantly looking at the future with good reason. However,
occasionally we should learn from our past about what is unchanging.
week WPP's Mark Read said this. "We need to invest more in creativity.
We've disappeared down the rabbit hole of optimization, but a fantastic
idea can multiply a client's budget by three to five times."
is right, although Les Binet and Peter Field would claim it is even more
effective than that. What he is saying though is clear. Over the last
couple of years, advertising went a bit crazy. Some people thought we
were selling something else besides ideas and creativity that helps
business grow. My question is what else besides creativity can do that
to a client's budget? My next question is why did anybody ever move away
from creativity if it can do that?
The simple answer is people
thought efficiency and effectiveness were the same thing. There are many
examples right now in ad land of this blindness. For some, it will
It would seem a good story is still a good story. A great idea will always be a great idea.
I am not sure that will ever change.