Monday, April 28, 2014

The Whole Notion Of 'Target Market' Is Basically Just A Sham

Bob Hoffman, AKA The Ad Contrarian, is aghast that agencies never target older people. He points out that Americans over the age of 50 buy 62% of all new cars and 55% of consumer package goods. And yet, they are the target for only 5% of US advertising.

On the other hand, you could argue we should actually be targeting younger than we do. A recent report (can't find link) showed that boys already know which brand of car they will go on to buy... at age twelve.

John Hegarty's view on the same debate is that we shouldn't give a stuff about who we target. In his book Hegarty On Advertising he argues (and I'm paraphrasing a little) that people buy brands that are famous, therefore we should target as widely as possible.

I don't know who is right, but I do know that the current orthodoxy is dreadful. If a brand is targeting housewives, you 'have' to show housewives in the ad. If a brand is targeting businessmen, you show businessmen.

The new HBO campaign (above) proves this is bollocks. HBO Go is for anyone who wants to watch HBO on a laptop, tablet, or mobile. Which is basically anyone. And yet the campaign superficially looks like it's solely targeting teenagers. Why? Because teenagers who don't want to watch Game Of Thrones with their parents is a strong demonstration of the product benefit.

And this surely has to be the answer. The goal here is to sell the product, and if the best way to do that doesn't involve showing the target market in the ad, then that's the way to go. 

Smart clients know this. I presented an FMCG script a couple of years ago which featured two housewives, and the client suggested that this particular concept would work better with two men rather than two women. They were right.

So if anyone ever tells you that you 'have' to feature the target market in your ad, remind them that the target market for John West is not bears or fishermen, the target market for 3 is not ponies or singing cats, and the target market for PG Tips was not chimps.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Is PR The New Scam?

Answer: no, it's not.

Consider two new campaigns that were released last week.
On the left, a print/outdoor piece for highlighter pens(!) With apologies to those involved... this feels terribly old-fashioned to me.

But the MJ Bale work, on the right, which put a paywave chip in the arm of a suit, is a totally different beast.

Yes, it was probably agency-initiated, and the principal motivation was probably to win awards, but the crucial difference is that it will also do a great job for the client. In fact it already has - that suit got shedloads of PR coverage.

Like World's Most Powerful Arm, Mobile Medic, Fundawear, FlavorPrint, and Honey Maid, it's a perfect example of the modern, low-budget, tech-based PR piece. 

For whatever reason, the news outlets have gone crazy for tech stories - they feature a tech story every single day. Therefore, if you come up with a cool tech idea, it will be featured in the news media, reach millions of people, and get genuine results for the client... as well as winning awards.

Result - we don't need to do scam any more, people.

An interesting side-aspect of this development is it means that we're all in PR now, to some extent. I don't mind, because I think PR is very fun. And fortunately, ad agencies seem to be better at PR than the PR agencies are...

UPDATE - A couple of friends who work in PR have pointed out to me that many of the case studies I listed – including the MJ Bale campaign - were not created solely by ad agencies, but by ad agencies working in collaboration with PR agencies. Which kinda invalidates my point about ad agencies being better at PR than PR agencies. We're better together! Let's do this.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

3 Things TV Can Learn From Social Media

Bob Hoffman's talk at Advertising Week Europe has generated a super-fun controversy.

A commenter on Campaign Brief opines: "So glad this is out there. Sick of the so called 'social specialists' in the agency talking shit the entire time."

Whereas my old colleague Carl Moggridge describes Bob (via Twitter) as "The world's most jaded and deluded adman," and points out that Bob's speech, which largely praises TV and derides online, was sponsored by the UK's largest free-to-air TV broadcaster.

The comments I've seen on the various ad blogs seem mostly to be on Bob's side, in a ratio of about 5 to 1.

And yet a lot of those commenters are angry.

Yes, there's a lot of bullshit spoken about social. And I applaud Bob for calling it out. But my question is - rather than being angry about the rampant rise of the online world, would it not be more interesting to consider what the old world can learn from the new?

So here goes, with 3 things TV can learn from social media. 

1) Social media campaigns are short

When a cancer charity asks people to post a 'no make-up selfie', it asks them to do it once. Not six times. And the whole campaign is around for about a week, not six weeks. And yet media buyers insist that people need to see a TV ad multiple times. And that a TV campaign must last for weeks. Is that really necessary? If it's impactful enough, do people need to see it multiple times? Would it not be better to invest in different executions, rather than hitting people over the head with the same one, again and again?

2) Social media campaigns get people to do something

It's well-known that getting people to do something makes them more likely to buy. That's why vacuum cleaner salespeople are so keen for you to have a go yourself. And yet 95% of TV ads are nothing but one-way messages. Please note I'm not saying that every ad needs to urge people to enter a competition, or go to a website. It just doesn't need to be a closed loop. It could ask questions, or make people think. Rather than just broadcasting at them.

3) Social media campaigns are light-hearted

Marketers have quickly worked out that to get engagement online, you have to do something funny, interesting, or quirky. Because that's what people respond to. And yet when it comes to TV, that learning seems to go out of the window. There's a belief that it's okay to broadcast ads which are wall-to-wall product benefit, testimonials, or rational sales messages. It's not. Just because you're paying to send someone a message, doesn't mean they'll respond well to it.

Despite Bob's assault on it, the internet is not going away. But nor is TV. So wouldn't it be great if the two sides could play nicely, and see what they can learn from each other?

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Has The Next Step In The Evolution Of Our Industry Begun?

The accepted wisdom is that you need to observe at least three examples of a phenomenon to start calling it a trend.

But what the hell, I'm calling it on two.

First, a quick refresher on what's wrong with our industry:

Clients now have separate agencies for social, search, analytics, CRM, media, digital, and above-the-line creative. The Agencies are frustrated because, with only a small piece of the pie each, we're not making enough money. And the Clients are frustrated because they're not getting joined-up thinking.

The change I see happening - and feel free to call me Captain Obvious - is that things need to come together. And you know what? I think it's started.

The first example, and it's a hugely significant one, is that British Airways have just awarded their entire account - ATL, digital, social, CRM - to BBH.

I predict this will be a massive success for both parties.

BA will reap the benefits of fully-integrated thinking. (They will no doubt achieve a cost saving too, having dispensed with multiple agencies).

And BBH benefits from economies of scale. What could potentially have been several separate businesses are now one business... all sharing the same HR, finance team, reception, security guards, CEO, catering, the people that come in to water the plants, parties, and office rent.

Example two: Cummins & Partners in Melbourne.
This shop does everything, including - crucially - media.

To quote from their website: "We want all parts of the communications process working as one. Collaborating. No silos, no divisions, no off-shoots, no multiple business cards, no holding companies holding disparate entities together. We’re a media company that’s creative. A creative agency that produces content."
And their work's pretty good. Simple, entertaining ideas like this one for Woodstock Bourbon, and of course, I Bought A Jeep. If you don't like that campaign, just remember that civilians have uploaded multiple parodies of it onto YouTube. It has cut through. This is an agency that knows what it's doing, and is doing it well. And if you don't agree with that verdict... ask yourself why they were named AdNews agency of the year.

So in short, the future is going to look a lot like the past. Like some kind of malignant amoeba, advertising divided itself into multiple cells, but they're now all coming back together. Which has to be a good thing, right?