My role as a strategist requires me to immerse myself in a brand, understand the market it plays in and then develop a strategy that assists the brand to increase its bottom line. In order to devise a strategy that works, certain factors have to be taken into account. These include your consumers, features, advantages, benefits and direct competition from alternate brands. By keeping these factors in mind, I need to assist the brand to increase its bottom line. However, a strange thing happens between the completion of the strategy and the beginning of the communication campaign to the consumers. The strategy is intercepted by “creative’s” whose job too often entails turning the attention as far from the core message as possible while attempting to “be creative” with the concept.
Now let me state for the record, I am certainly not blind to the benefits which a superb creative hook can have on a campaign (think Nando’s: Malema, Joost and Amor). Putting the success of these aside, when one looks at the plethora of positively mediocre creative’s which is the vast majority of all advertising, one wonders whether it isn’t safer to play the odds and just deliver the message in simple plain English that makes it easy to understand. Yes, an advert is meant to interrupt, but why can’t it interrupt with the quality of the offering or the extent of the differential advantage, rather than attempting to interrupt with a mediocre creative.
The simple truth is that the proportion of brands who benefit from outstanding creative execution pale in comparison with those who lose money because their ad agency won’t let them communicate their point of difference in simple plain English that the market can understand. While driving home recently one evening and listening to the radio, I heard two popular adverts that get replayed on radio a lot but if you ask me what they were about, I honestly can’t remember. It boggles my mind as to why a large company would allow an agency to devote 28 seconds to a creative concept with a two second flash of a logo at the end of the production - the only evidence of who paid for the advert. Unfortunately this seems to be happening with ever growing popularity.
The fact is that the entire industry is incentivised not on the extent to which they are able to grow their clients’ bottom lines but on how creative they can be and by extension how many “Loerie Awards” they can win. This is further evidence of the input focus from the marketing and advertising industry. I mean how often does an agency ask to be compensated, not by time spent, but as a percentage of the bottom line value they assist in adding?
This particular advert portrays some idiot talking in a fake coloured accent (which has to be offensive to a large proportion of the target market) about vehicle abuse being worse than physical or drug abuse in an attempt to sell a car tracking system. I truly can’t remember which one despite having heard the advert numerous times.
So I was not shocked when I was quoted R25,000 to have my logo done, and upon querying it, told that it is the basis of the success of my business, the fundamental element of my entire business offering. This is completely unjustifiable and unfortunately the myth that creativity is the key to bottom line success still exists. If you ask an average person whether they have ever bought a product because of the logo (or vice versa not done so), the answer will be absolutely not. People buy products for a number of reasons and consumer behavior is a well researched field. From packaging to taste to its functional benefits to the emotional brand intrinsic - but logo’s,not so much.
My personal favourite came at a proposal presentation I attended last week from a well known agency who spent 15 minutes preparing us for the campaign they were about to present and another 10 minutes after flighting the campaign debriefing us on the how’s and why’s. I was left intrigued as to how, if they felt the campaign needed a 25 minute explanation to the audience, they expected the target market to grasp the concept in only 30 seconds.
So….before you start taking off your crocs and throwing them at me, let me clarify that I truly believe there is a place in the promotional mix for a good advertising agency - a big place. What is the key you may ask? The agency would have to deliver work that ensures that the bottom line of the business was increased by assisting to differentiate the client’s brand from their competitor’s and not merely fill their own trophy cabinet with Loeries.
What would happen if one brave brand rejected the creative advice and simply decided to communicate their point of difference to their market in the simplest of English whenever possible? The answer is that 10 years later that same market would still remember that Morkel’s is your two year guarantee store!