Friday, 22 March 2013

The dinosaur strikes back

It's been a while since I actually wanted to stand up and cheer someone in the advertising business, but this article in AdAge elicited a small 'Hurrah!'

The report is from a 'Wired Global Conversation' panel in which John Hegarty took part. When the flavour-of-last-year subject of Big Data came up, Hegarty commented, in reference to the recent horse meat scandal: 'You look at too much data and you don't actually see what's going on around you.'

Bob Greenberg, of R/GA retaliated with an example of how data could be used creatively - '...when I walk into Nike Town and they know who I am and they'll be able to serve up really relevant content.'

Presumably unimpressed with the prospect of the serving-up of content (somehow that word always reminds me of stomach contents - perhaps Mr Hegarty had the same feeling) that's not just quite relevant but really relevant, the veteran ad man retorted with a classic line:

'To those brands that say "I understand you" I say F*** off, you don't understand me. Mind your own business, I don't want to be understood by you. I don't understand myself sometimes...and it can be fun.'

Hear, hear. Even if they aren't stupid enough to 'say' this directly in their communication, there are plenty of brands - or at least people who manage them - who write this down in their strategy, their positioning. We understand 'the consumer'. There are even departments in some companies called Consumer Understanding departments.

It is difficult enough to understand yourself, or your nearest and dearest. The people who run brands should realise: you don't need to understand every aspect of my psyche in order to make a washing powder that gets my clothes clean without wasting energy.

John Hegarty may be an advertising dinosaur, but think about dinosaurs for a moment. One thing is sure - everyone remembers their names.

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