Archives for posts with tag: Consumer


This speech is 39 years old. It ¬†was given by Jermy Bullmore, CD at JWT London to Kraft executives. It’s as relevant as ever:

“Language itself is never completely explicit. Words have suggestive, evocative powers; but at the same time they are merely stepping-stones for thought. The artist rules his subjects by turning them into accomplices.

And that seems to me as good as a definition of the role of the creative man in advertising as I’ve ever read. We have to try to rule our subjects by turning them into accomplices; because, if they aren’t accomplices, they may well turn out to be enemies.

Let me now summarize where I think I’ve got to so far, before going on to illustrate the thesis with examples of advertising.

– Many people – our consumers – find much advertising irritating: and if anything, this trend is on the increaser. Some of this irritation is undoubtedly caused by the weight of advertising, by the intensity of advertising, by repetition and by the irrelevance of certain groups of products to certain groups of people. (…)

– But some, at least, of this irritation springs from advertisements which people describe as being an “insult to their intelligence”.

– What this particular phrase seems to mean is not simply talking down to people, or hectoring people. It means that the ‘sender’ has an inadequate understanding of the communication process in general and the role of the receiver in particular.

– The receiver is not passive: he is active. He will contribute, complete, modify, reject, select or repudiate: whether we like it or not. He doesn’t absorb messages: he responds to stimuli. He draws his own conclusions.

– If we attempt to deny him the chance to contribute, we run the risk not only of failing to achieve satisfactory communication, but of irritating him a great deal into the bargain.”

Isn’t it fascinating to see that we haven’t made that much progress in almost 40 years? The majority of advertisers are still yelling. The fragmentation of communication channels should lead to a golden age of storytelling. Let’s hope so.

Do yourself and read the whole speech. It’s fantastic.

Unless you advertise this abomination


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1. The strategy includes the fragment “we will drive traffic to the micro-site”

Micro-sites had their time but it’s a time long past. Building brand experiences totally removed from the platforms people use daily and share content with their Social Graph is a strategy destined to fail. And cost you a lot of money to “drive” people to that solitary microsite.

2. Customers are considered an audience

The majority of your customers have transformed from passive consumers to active producers. They review, link, share, write, create. Marketing is about behavior change. In this age, it’s almost impossible to turn passive consumption into active participation/behavior change. Instead, focus on digital initiatives that allow people to participate: polls, question, interactions, and co-creation.

3. A reliance on buying attention

Buying disruptive advertising to get attention is not as effective as earning attention through interesting content or collaborative efforts. Good marketing earns attention. It draws you in, it makes people give away their precious time to engage with the marketing product. It’s a story well told. It’s an insight revealed.

4. The strategy includes the word ‘viral’

The viral metaphor has been abused and misquoted until it lost all its meaning. You can’t create something that just self-propagates. People pass things around in the digital world for their own social reasons. Tap into those social reasons and you will be able to create a piece of content people want to share with others.

5. Social Media is regarded as another channel

All your traditional media (offline and online) has to be social: Feeding the social platforms you chose and feeding off them. Social is not everything but everything is social.

6. They talk all day long about brand positioning

We learned a long time ago that brands can’t be everything to everybody. Brand positioning was born. In an age where brands are defined by people, brand positioning has lost its value. Modern brands have a point of view. A very strong point of view that will turn off many people and turn on your customers.

7. The majority of objectives and goals are about media metrics, not your business goals

Would you rather have an advertising campaign with an engagement rate of 20% and sales increase of 0.2% or a marketing campaign with an engagement rate of 4% and sales increase of 12%? Real brand-agency partnerships look at the business holistically, not judge the performance by the media spreadsheet.

And a bonus sign:

It’s just about you and them. Not the customer.

Take your marketing hat off for a second: As a customer, would you like to get spammed 532 Foursquare offers when you walk around a mall? Or do you want something useful, something that improves your life? It’s so easy to fall into the trap of bright, shiny objects and squeeze everything out of them until they’ve become another spam bot. It might be beneficial for the short-term but it doesn’t do anything for long-term brand equity. Customers are not a walking wallet, they are a key stakeholder in the success of your company.


Everyone attending this week’s Breakthrough Summit heard Ray Kurzweil speak and admires his intellect. Now, do me a favor: Don’t imagine Ray Kurzweil in a bikini. Don’t think about the red-green floral pattern of his bathing suit. Don’t think about the black flip-flops with plastic flowers on top that fit his feet perfectly.

Oh boy, you really had to imagine it, did you? You couldn’t stay away from it.

When smokers don’t want to think about cigarettes, they think more about them. My point: The more you try not to think about a challenge, the more it occupies your mind.

That’s how I felt about the advertising industry in the last few years: Let’s pretend 0.1%CTR is okay (forgetting that 99.9 basically showed us the middle finger). Let’s pretend mass communication still works, we just need to add a layer of BT and top it with consumer segmentation. Let’s pretend the media world is not breaking apart amidst a consumer and technology revolution. Let’s pretend a beautiful Facebook page and a witty Twitter feed will fix everything, checks the social box off and keeps the consumer in check.

By pretending everything was okay or will be okay at one point, brands and agencies stressed out, blaming each other, trying to sneak advertising in new and innovative ways on consumer’s screens just to be rebuffed again and again. The future of the advertising looked very dim to me, since nobody wanted to admit that we need to change the paradigm of advertising or we’ll be doomed.

Until this week. Until I had numerous conversations with brand marketers and agency folks about the new marketing reality. Finally, the majority of us was open to admit that we have a problem. That the revenue models of yesterday will be the bankruptcy filings of tomorrow. That the business models of yesterday will be the graveyards of failed businesses tomorrow. That change is our only hope for the future.

And I felt an emotional swing from fear to resolve: Let’s change the paradigm. Let’s change this industry. Let’s change how we can converse with people. Make everybody a stakeholder of our brand.

Fear of change has ruled this industry for too long and led to incremental changes. That’s not good enough anymore. As Peter Horan said yesterday: “You can’t research the future, you have to be willing to jump into the dark.”

It’s not that dark anymore, I finally saw some light.