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Stardate August 7th 2558

There’s a growing realisation, finally, that brand interaction on digital is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Like the rest of us, I’ve been consuming messages (including ads) on sites like YouTube for a decade, as well as the ever-increasing number of commercial messages on the ever-increasing number of social media sites.

And for most of that period, Digital Ninja Turtles were trying to convince us that the Holy Grail was ‘likes’ and click-throughs, but you know, us that have been around a little longer than the advent of the i-phone had suspicions that this just may be, to use a technical term, bollocks.

The outing of Click Farms pretty much confirmed that was the case and it was easy to scam the whole system. So the King’s New Clothes were revealed and that puts paid to all digital advertising, now, let’s get back to normal.

In all those years of absorbing digital messages, I don’t remember ever clicking on one, ‘liking’ one, or interacting with any. And I haven’t become a ‘brand ambassador’ or ‘brand advocate’ for any brand, unless they pay me. Why should I?

But does the fact that I chose not to get involved with digital brand messages mean that I don’t actually like any? Do we have to rely on actual interaction data to measure the success or failure of our digital advertising? I don’t think so.
Plenty have logged in my brain and left an impression. Just like the tv ads I grew up with.

Of course there’s a role for digital advertising and I think we’re just starting to get the hang of it. As we’ve said all along, the medium is not the message, the message is the message. And Facebook has started advising advertisers to create messages that are interesting enough to pique people’s…well, interest. Sound familiar?

We used to say people were bombarded with hundreds of advertising messages every day and because of that we have to do something special to attract their attention. Not much as changed with that principle except that now we are bombarded with tens of thousands of messages per day, on smartphones, i-pads, laptops, on top of all the ambient stuff that assaults our eyeballs in our daily commute.

So the current generation, including my 16-year-old daughter, has evolved an amazing mental capacity. Not for accepting all this information, but for filtering it.

Yes, some digital coms require click-throughs, if they’re competitions or offers but even then, if the main message is interesting and engaging enough, it will still register the brand in people’s consciousness. And after all, isn’t that what advertising is about. What goes around comes around.

Blog off.

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Stardate June 13th 2554*

 

Nearly every meeting I’ve ever been to about creative work has included a discussion about ‘branding’.

At some point during the many negotiations over ‘size of branding’ I realised we were actually having completely different discussions. Because the size or prominence of the logo has nothing to do with branding.

 

I learnt a lot in the ten years I worked for Dave Trott, but one of the very first things he ever taught me (and it defined a lot of the successful campaigns I’ve been involved with) was that branding is where your product is inextricably linked to the message – take the product name away and the line doesn’t work anymore. Or remove the product itself and the idea doesn’t work anymore. Could you replace your product with a competitor product for example?

 

He’d just done a campaign for an, apparently, unbreakable umbrella called Knirps.

 

Ker-what? Exactly.

 

He came up with a line “You can break a brolly but you can’t k-nacker a K-nirps” which I thought was bloody brilliant because suddenly I knew how to actually say the bloody name. (Bit of a barrier to purchase if you don’t even know how to say the name of the product, I’d say.)

 

Then we won the Toshiba tellys account. Another name problem. Back then, they were unheard of, and the few people that were aware of them would pronounce it “Tobisha” and say it was an inferior product to the well known Sony’s, JVC’s and Philips’s.

 

These weren’t bars of chocolate you’d try out on a whim, they were expensive kit, and the fact was, Toshiba was actually superior technology to the competitors, but at those prices no-one was buying something they’d never heard of.  In John Hegarty’s book he says “your brand is the most valuable piece of real estate in the world – it occupies a corner of someone’s mind.” And sure enough, people would go shopping with the aforementioned top-of-mind list and they were not buying Toshiba’s in droves.

 

Dave came to me and played this wacky novelty song by Alexei Sayle “Hello John, got a new motor” and was going to change it to “Allo Tosh, Gotta a Toshiba” and what did I think? I thought he was fucking nuts, but he was my boss so I was polite: “with all due respect, Sir…”. Actually, that’s not true, I was a cocky bastard so I said “nah Dave, don’t be daft – tosh means rubbish, everyone will call it a load of tosh”

 

He ignored me and went and did it anyway.

 

Blueprint Man + catchy re-record by Ian Dury + name pronunciation = shitloads of Toshiba tellies disappearing out the stores (and this was before the days when looting became a trendy pastime).

 

Abject lesson. Never forgotten.

 

At dfgw, we used the principle very successfully when we launched the unheard of and unpronounceable Daewoo Cars in the UK, with “…that’ll be the Daewoo”. The fact that it was the most successful car launch ever in the UK, and got 95% unprompted recall after three months (more than GM Vauxhall, the biggest spender at the time, got after many years) didn’t surprise us.

 

Branding’s become slightly more sophisticated since then. But only slightly.

 

So it’s refreshing when you get a client that doesn’t see the words ‘logo’ and ‘size’ in the same sentence. Last year, me and my team did a campaign for Cornetto for our clients Tommy Wattimena and Nicole Sparshott at Unilever. I promised them a campaign that could only be for Cornetto, that wouldn’t work if you removed the product, that couldn’t be done for another product. There were no discussions about size (well not to do with the logo anyway).

The campaign is built around the ritual of unwrapping the product (you may say the ‘pain of’ or the ‘irritation of’ but the fact is it’s the only way you can get to eat the thing).

 

It’s the most successful Cornetto campaign ever in Thailand.
People remember the campaign and they remember the product because you can’t take the product out of the campaign. THAT’S branding.
Pretty basic stuff. But this is advertising, and under all the bullshit and powerpoints, it’s a pretty basic business.

 

Blog off.

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