Tuesday 26 October 2010

Generation 50Minus

Lady Gaga is one. So are Barack Obama and David Cameron. And Wayne Rooney. Oh, and my ten-year-old son.

They are everywhere these days.

I'm talking about Generation 50Minus. You know, that consumer segment also known as First Agers, Immature Consumers, Junior Citizens and Bronze Agers? Only, of course, you should never directly refer to them as such in your marketing. For some reason, they don't like it.

Actually, they are a very interesting group for advertisers: when it comes to brands, they aren't interested in substance or quality, only in brands as superficial badges or cult objects to compensate for a not-yet-formed personality.

And they are pretty easy to market to as they have precious little knowledge, wisdom or life experience. Reliability and responsibility are foreign concepts to them.

Can we please stop this absurdity right now?

Saturday 16 October 2010

Wining and Mining

To go with our meal last night, I admit to being drawn to a rather nice Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. And I am not the only one, it seems.

I read a report in the English press that the coverage of the rescue of the miners in Chile seems to have had an influence on wine-buying habits. Oddbins reported a general 10% lift over the past few weeks and Waitrose customers apparently showed their solidarity with a +25% uplift in sales on the day of the rescue.

I have friends from Chile and I am pleased that the media coverage seems to be having a positive effect, not just on the image of the country, but possibly on the economy as well.

And it makes a change from the "forced" marketing of produce from a particular land that we have to suffer during, say, a World Cup. I still haven't quite recovered from the onslaught of "South African" products that hit the stores this summer!

Tuesday 12 October 2010


I do like this blog to be mainly a channel for my own musings, but I occasionally read something that I wish I'd written and take the opportunity to pass it on.

Some time ago, I think it must have been the early 90s, I noticed that almost every print ad had the same look. That was the time, of course, when art directors started doing layouts on their Macs. It led to a certain conformity of style.

Jim Carroll, the Chairman of BBH London, remarks that a similar thing happened to cars around 1983. They all started looking the same, because they'd all been through the same wind tunnel. And in this article, well-worth a read, Jim bemoans what he calls "wind-tunnel marketing" that has resulted in a conformity of output of advertising agencies.

Expertise and judgement losing importance in favour of systems and testing, Jim says. And while we learned, back in the 80s, that branded communication should be relevant, motivating
and different, relevance, in Jim's words "has trumped difference."

Is this just another "sour grapes" agency chairman, trotting out the cliche about "research killing creativity"? No. Like me, Jim started his career in market research where I expect he received a good grounding in what research can and cannot do.

Did you spot the deliberate mistake? Of course, "research" cannot do anything. It is inanimate. Nor can it speak, last time I looked, so do remember that the next time someone uses the expression "but the research says..." They probably have fairies at the bottom of the garden, too.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Devils (and angels) in the detail

I commented in a recent post that neuroscience seems to be the flavour of the year when it comes to understanding that age old question: "How does advertising work?"

While I am still incredibly cautious about anything that involves "subjects" lying in a brain scanner, unable to move more than a few mm, I was interested to see that Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, have released their first neuroscience study.

And the topline is - when it comes to creativity in advertising, the little things can make all the difference. It seems that very small details - that often cannot be recalled consciously - can have a significant effect on how people process and store an ad in the brain, and thus its eventual effectiveness. Little details, such as facial expressions, and the timing of music.

Now, I am not sure that we need a neuroscience study to tell us this. Good creatives, directors and producers know these things intuitively. But it sure as anything adds weight to the argument that quantitative pre-tests, particularly those employing storyboards, may not be testing what we want to test. I'm all for creative development research to look at the potential of an idea but I don't like the idea of people's preference for the facial expression of one orange-faced drawing of a Hausfrau over another determining the creative direction of the brand.

Saturday 2 October 2010

Creativity at Work

There seems to be a lot of creativity buzzing around the ether at the moment - or at least ideas about the creative process itself.

One book that I've come across this week is "The Creative Process Illustrated: How Advertising's Big Ideas are Born" by W. Glenn Griffin and Deborah Morrison. The two professors of advertising asked hundreds of creative professionals the question: What does your creative process look like?

Their replies are fascinating, from a fly fishing metaphor to a 16-step process worthy of the best of Procter & Gamble to the totally enigmatic.

And I love this video to support Steven Johnson's "Where good ideas come from". Chance favours the connected mind - yes, indeedy!

Perhaps what is most enlightening for me is that I recognise the way I go about Planning here. Does that make me a Creative Planner or am I just in the wrong job?