Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Action Men (and Women)

I was chatting to an old pilot chum of my dad's the other day who was bemoaning the fact that everyone has become an collector and interpreter of data these days, to the extent that pilots don't pilot, teachers don't teach, engineers don't engineer and doctors don't doctor - we are all too busy trying to keep on top of the data. It's the same for those that work in Marketing and Advertising - we're so busy with KPIs and goals, justifying this expense and filling in that form, rating this colleague or informing that one that we don't have that much time to do what we're really paid for.

A new book has been published this week, by Adam Ferrier of cummins&partners, called The Advertising Effect.  In the blurb for the book, Adam asks those in advertising to do something that some may consider radical: forget rational messaging and creating an emotional brand connection and focus on affecting action and behavioural change.

And furthermore, he asks us to "get over and accept" a simple premise: we are in the behaviour change business.

This is all fine stuff, but I confess that I'm a little surprised. This is precisely what I have always understood advertising to be about. Early on in my career, we always had a part of the brief which was titled something like "what would we like people to think, feel and do as a result of this campaign"? And although these were laid out in this order, I don't think it was ever implied that the thinking resulted in the feeling which resulted in the doing.

In the end, advertising works in many weird and wonderful ways. The same campaign can have different effects on different people. One TV spot, say, can give one person a nice warm fuzzy feeling about the brand that's so strong that it's still around a year later when she's in the market for one of those. And for the next person, it may simply act as a catalyst for buying one of those (that he needs) tomorrow, and the ad is forgotten the next day.

What's important to me is that advertising is about change. Whether it's an emotional connection that leads to a change in behaviour or behavioural change that triggers a perceptual change isn't the point.

And it's a permanent change in how someone thinks, feels or behaves regarding that brand, not just change for change's sake.

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