What’s On

A kick up the advertising ass

Rudely awakened by the deepest recession in our careers, we’ve left the beaten marketing and advertising tracks behind us once and for all. And we’ve now collectively gone off road to explore new ways to reach and entice the target group. Marketers exclaim when briefing their agency that they’re going to do things totally differently: ‘A touch-up? No way, we want a complete makeover!’

So we run like a herd of wild wildebeests across the steppe in search of new territory where the grass is greener. We overhaul processes. Fewer layers, greater agility. We don’t sell, we engage. We replace scripts for commercials with authentic recordings. And we don’t talk about ourselves, but make the customer’s experiential world our epicentre. We ask ‘What’s your story’ and we’re ‘Invested in each other’.

Marketing communications have got a new groove that feels fresh, genuine and meaningful. So at least there’s one bright side to the bleakness of the recession. We’re already being bombarded with new-fashioned cases at the Cannes Lions, ADCN, Esprix and Effie. And even old-school commercial breaks somehow feel new with un-advertisingish campaigns from John Lewis, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, Delta Airlines.

But not all that glitters is green in this new emerald pasture. If we just let ourselves go with the flow, we’ll all end up at the same place. Somewhere that’s in tune with the times and that has been verified qualitatively and quantitatively by well-respected research agencies. But where there will – if we don’t watch out – be no room left for distinction and stopping power.

After traditional advertising, uniformity is the new threat. Is half the advertising budget being wasted? If only we were so lucky! Recent research into the effectiveness of communications in the UK has rendered some terrifying results. About 4 per cent of all advertising in the UK is recalled positively, 7 per cent negatively and 89 per cent isn’t recalled at all. So let’s not let new paths, technologies and the related jargon lull us to sleep.

Storytelling, crowdsourcing and behavioural economics: it will lead to nothing without differentiation and excellent execution. Anybody who wants to make it onto the likes of the Effie stage with contemporary advertising is going to have to give himself one last kick up the ass. And combine the new age with surprising and stunning impact. Only then will we be able to keep the UK figures safely at bay.

Dick van der Lecq

Dick van der Lecq is the Managing Director at DDB Unlimited. He was previously the Managing Partner at Etcetera.