Thursday 28 April 2011

Just do it

If I was a decade or two earlier in my career - and still lived in the UK - I think I'd be signing up for the course run by the apg "21st Century Planning for integration and behavioural change."

The blurb about this course points out that planning is not just about what "message" you need - if you need one at all - but that's it's vital to plan campaigns around desired behavioural change.

This sounds good to me, but it does remind me that we did sort-of pay lip service to this aspect in our creative briefs a decade or two ago, with the "desired consumer response" section. In this, we would state what we'd like people to think, feel and do as a result of the campaign.

Unfortunately, I don't think many of us thought past "buy the brand" when we filled in that section. It would be great if this course can get people beyond that sort of thinking.

By the way, why is Behavioural Economics trendy and a buzz-phrase while Behavioural Psychology is not? Is the clue in the picture?

Monday 25 April 2011

Ozymandias Airways

I was lucky enough to cut my planning teeth on the British Airways account, at the end of the 80s.

It may seem odd to people starting out in their careers now that working on an airline was the jewel in the crown as far as accounts went back then - just as cigarettes had been a few years before. But it does occur to me that the best communications tend to happen when the category is a "happening" one - like Apple or Google today.

Airline advertising had a dromedary of a golden age - the first hump ran from the late 40s to the early 70s and comprised mainly of print advertising which just oozed the glamour of air travel and the exoticism of the destinations.

A slight oil crisis/cheap packages on charter flights/hi-jacking fears dip held things down for a few years in the 70s, but with the privatisation of British Airways and the increased popularity of long-haul business flying, airline advertising entered the second hump of the golden age, with some of the best TV commercials the world has seen.

Working on an airline account must be a challenge these days. Horrendous acts of terrorism have led to ever more intrusive security checks. Cheap n' cheerful no frills budget airlines have stripped the whole sector of its glamour and dreams. And anyone with a smidgeon of conscience will surely wonder if it's not just Concorde that should be pensioned off as being non-sustainable.

Perhaps it's no wonder that airlines reach back to those carefree golden days for their communications, whether it's Virgin celebrating 25 years in glorious 1980s style, or Lufthansa selling retro-style travel bags via Tchibo.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Happy Talk

There was a time, when I lived in the UK when I couldn't walk past a building site without being told "cheer up, love - it might never happen."

Builders were always Britain's official cheerer-uppers - and their chirpiness was guaranteed to produce a curmudgeonly "grrrrrr" of a backfire.

I'm afraid that the following piece of advertising evokes a similar reaction in me. It's a shame, because the movement behind it, Action for Happiness, does seem to have some substance and some intelligent thinkers associated with it.

But while I agree with the sentiments is ticking an email "pledge" to try to create more happiness really the way?

It's a bit like money. The people with the most aren't the ones talking about it.

Monday 11 April 2011

Antisocial Media

I'm pretty mediocre when it comes to social media, apart from this blog. I have a half-hearted presence on Facebook, use LinkedIn for business contacts and click "yes" for most people that come looking for me on Xing. And there are a couple of communities relating to non-work interests that I'm quite into, when time allows.

I've noticed in the last week that a couple of these networks are "coming back at me" - and not always in a desirable direction.

It looks as if LinkedIn are starting to recruit people to take part in surveys. This is just about OK in my book - and at least they had the decency to ask if I wanted to take part in future surveys, and how often. Plus there was the option of donating the €5 incentive to charity.

But a worrying development happened via a site called InterNations, that I joined once, never used, and don't seem to be able to extricate myself from. It was a classic cold-caller selling financial advice who used every repugnant trick in the book until I called his bluff and he admitted to having my details from InterNations. What's rubbish about this, apart from the annoyance, is that not only did the financial advice firm take a plummet in my estimation for using such shoddy tactics (I'm not naming names yet as I am giving them a chance to redeem themselves) but the whole grubby feeling also manages to rub off on InterNations.

What you'd call a lose-lose situation, I suppose.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Sweet Sixteen

For one reason or another, I've been looking at presentations from a number of major market research agencies lately and one thing that the quant agencies are trying to do is to get a handle on the way people respond to communication emotionally.

Interestingly, agencies are looking at ways of classifying human emotions or motivations (NB: I'm not using these terms inter-changeably as others seem to do!) and using this as a basis for quantifying response to a piece of advertising - what desire does the brand meet or which emotion does the advertising evoke?

I was reminded in all of this of my own studies and one thing that's remarkable is that most of these grids and lists seem to focus on the magic number 16! There was the personality inventory, the Myers-Briggs grid and another Magic 16 that seems to be referenced by many of the research agencies is Professor Steven Reiss' "16 Basic Desires".

It seems reasonable that these desires govern behaviour to some extent but I would question whether they really define someone's personality. Personality is surely something more fundamental, more complex, more long-term. And I also wonder if there should be some good old Maslow-esque hierarchy at play here: can you really put "Eating" and "Idealism" on the same level? And where is creativity ?

But as a basic list, it's not bad and could certainly help in defining which human desires your brand in particular can satisfy.