The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


It’s A Fine Line Between Capturing Imagination, Over Promising & Talking Complete And Utter Bollocks …
May 6, 2011, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

Look at this:

Yes, it really is a notepad that is claiming it [1] uses future technology and [2] is the choice for tomorrow’s superstars.

Now while I appreciate it caught my attention, the fact is I look at the brand with distain and pity rather than awe and aspiration … and that’s because to make a claim like that requires either an element of proof or an element of tongue-in-cheek and this has neither.

The problem with planning is that if you take it to it’s logical conclusion, it’s job is to help brands fit in to people’s lives and frames-of-reference … which in some ways could be interpreted as being anti-differentiation. Because of this, planners are being encouraged to go to greater and greater extremes so that their creative colleagues [from an ad agency structural perspective, not an ability perspective] can do something that is interesting and imaginative.

Now I am all for creating work that is culturally impactful, provocative and imaginative – but without some element of anchoring [or, a tone that basically demonstrates you have let go of all seriousness] you end up running the risk that what you create ultimately distracts rather than motivates … and whilst some may claim ‘disruption’ is the key to creativity, I would argue that the goal of simply ‘standing out’ – whatever the cost – is not a smart strategy, but one that demonstrates an air of desperation.

I’ve never worked for TBWA but they are an agency I have always admired.

To be honest though, that admiration is based more on their past work than present – though there have done some stuff recently that I am very impressed with.

The point is, when they were at their ‘disruptive best’, they were never about pointless claims or over-promising, they were about challenging the status quo through better, more provocative insights &/or using alternative, provocative tones-of-voice … in short, it was based on smarts not shock and I can’t help but feel too many people have missed this point and embraced an attitude of ‘if it stands out, it’s OK’ and it’s not, it’s not OK at all.

The danger of post rationalisation is that people skip over the little things that shaped the approach – that went on to make the biggest difference to the thinking and the work – and so whilst I think planning and execution should always be imaginative, involving, interesting and intriguing … there’s a point where if the masses look at it and go “what a pile of bollocks”, it’s possibly more about agency indulgence than commercial brilliance.

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46 Comments so far
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What Andy says.

Comment by John

Seconded.

Comment by Billy Whizz

you fucking know who is the genius around here. well done humble fucking subjects. now get me my fucking birthday presents.

Comment by andy@cynic

Saw the photo and liked the post then you had to go and ruin it with your planner ramble. Doesn’t matter, Andy’s back. Almost feel sorry for you Rob.

Comment by DH

dont feel sorry for rob, feel sorry for yourself you fucking turncoat.

Comment by andy@cynic

Interesting is normality tweaked.

Comment by John

If a planner said that they’d be destroyed and I’m not sure you have enough credits in the John Dodds bank to save you from a similar fate.

Comment by DH

Then Andy has 2 weeks of Rob insults to release so you could be safe. Clever strategy John.

Comment by DH

No Doddsy. No, no, no, no, no.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Slagging off planners might have let you get away with it but then you half complimented TBWA so you were asking for an Andy smackdown.

Comment by DH

The people behind the claim on the notepad should be turned into a campaign about the danger of drugs. Yes Rob I know it’s similar to our anti drug campaign but this is evolving it, not badly copying it. Get over it.

Underneath it all this is a good post but obviously now Andy’s back I can’t say that.

Comment by DH

Be glad Andy’s back Dave, feels you were on the edge of being converted. Weak as fuck.

Comment by Billy Whizz

In the nick of time. Like the superhero he thinks he is.

Comment by DH

like i fucking am more like.

Comment by andy@cynic

Planners. Made with bollocks technology for today’s underachievers and tomorrow’s failures.

See what I did there?

Comment by Billy Whizz

at least theres one fucker out there whose consistent. you might be a tattoo loving sad fuck, but youre my tattoo loving sad fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s good to have you back.

Comment by Billy Whizz

i know it is.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thank fuck Andy’s back, this post was too much planning overload for me to handle on my own.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Can there be a better way of undermining your cutting edge credentials than carrying a notebook named after a pathologically safe cartoon strip from the Daily Express?

Comment by Chris

Apart from knowing the name of Daily Express cartoon strips you mean?

Comment by John

What better way to bolster one’s Ironic Hipster mystique?

Comment by Chris

gambol. sounds like campbell. coincidence? not fucking likely.

Comment by andy@cynic

I was already converted so I can say I think this is a great post with great points about the dangers of planning and post rationalising.

Do your worst Andy and welcome back.

Comment by Pete

youre not worth the effort to do my worst on pete so how about i say fuck you, you pansy planning fuck and you can run off to your mummy and say the nasty man insulted you. good? better fucking be.

Comment by andy@cynic

And with the work TBWA have put out over the last 12 months, it’s also a great post about the dangers of having a philosophy you don’t live up to.

Comment by Pete

better. but not as good as northern fucking groper will be thanks to his pettiness and anger.

Comment by andy@cynic

I usually leave the poisoned barbs to others, but in honour of Andy’s return I will say there was a time when I believed TBWA could redefine the advertising industry, but today they appear more like a slightly edgier McCann, certainly compared to the company Jay Chiat envisioned.
There’s still good people there, very good people, but the philosophy of the organisation appears to have moved from disruption to surrender.
This is a good post for all the reasons Pete mentions.

Welcome home Andrew, I take it this means we are meeting this weekend. I’ll warn my family.

Comment by George

that shows you were a daft fuck then doesnt it. once jay took the froggies cash the fucking place was on a fast track to blandom. if it wasnt for the london office in the late 90s and the odd fucking nice bit of shit from la, nz and sa, the head office would be in a fucking graveyard by now.

and yes you fucking will be honoured with my fucking presence this weekend and i want a cake and candles and another fucking big present to make up for the tumblefuckingweed i got from all the other bastards on here.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh god, he’s back.

There’s no point saying anything more …

Oh well, the peace was nice while it lasted.

Comment by Rob

you were crying in your pink fluffy fucking pillows with pain and fucking sadness more like. you fucking girl.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yep, you’re well rested.

Comment by Rob

Yay! Andy is back.

Comment by swati

finally the fucking respect i fucking deserve.

Comment by andy@cynic

Was the house still standing when you got back?

Comment by northern

but billy was funny – can’t we keep him?

Comment by lauren

cue tumbleweed

Comment by John

Keep him? You can marry him.

Comment by Rob

i said he was funny. not guilty.

Comment by lauren

Don’t think you can get a rise out of me by talking about TBWA, it’s just not going to happen.

Comment by northern

I’ve never worked for TBWA, but the way it sometimes comes across is that having made some brilliant work with the disruption philosophy, they started to use it as the base and forced template for everything regardless of it it was right.

So you then risk ending up with the situation you mentioned, with disruption shoe-horned into every campaign as best as possible, adding nothing to it.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

But they didn’t do any brilliant work with Disruption, they did brilliant work then post rationalised it.
What’s so great about 1984 and Crazy Ones for example isn’t the bollocks they spout in creds about ‘breaking conventions around cold computing and the unfeeling corporations that run them’ it’s a genuine insight that both Apple and their fans we’re creative rebels. It just told the truth about what the brand believed.
Crazy ones actually came from Steve Jobs telling Chiat Day he wanted to say thanks to the loyal people that stuck with them despite their crapness.
Oh, damn, risen to it haven’t I?

Comment by northern

youve got the willpower of a fucking fat fuck in an empty krispy fucking kreme northern. good job youre not a fucking spy because youd be handing over the fucking secrets with the promise of a cup of fucking tea.

your point proves disruption or any other fucking ad agency positioning means fuck all next to a clear fucking brief with a clear fucking objective rather than those predetermined bollock “communication requests” that too many average shit companies churn out.

judging by the latest apple ad shit, seems jobsy is having as much of a downturn as the tbwa fuckers. whats baz doing about it, thats what i want to fucking know.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m easy aren’t I?

Comment by northern

emfuckingbarrassingly so.

Comment by andy@cynic

[…] Maybe it’s because they seem to own the madness of it – laughing with the audience rather than have them laugh at them with statements like ‘no peeking’ – whereas other organizations try and justify their differentiation-for-the-sake-of-differentiation in serious overtones … trying to imply their small and insignificant improvement is the second coming of Christ. […]

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