Filed under: Comment
Adland has become a bit machismo.
It’s all about intellectual swordsmanship, trying to destroy someone or something with your brain and theories … so it’s no surprise so many of the ads out there either shout at the recipient as if they’re brain dead or show the sort of contrived emotion, you’d expect from some mid-afternoon, American cable television network.
Or a robot.
I’ve long said that for me, the greatest asset a planner can have is empathy.
An ability to absorb not just what people say, but feel it.
Their strengths, weaknesses, hopes and fears …
… then be able to allow your colleagues to feel the same things when you explain it to them.
When you do this, I genuinely believe magic happens.
When you do this, you’ve stopped making advertising and you’ve started creating deep, meaningful and powerful emotions.
For me, we’re losing this ability.
We’re choosing the path of intellectualism rather than emotion and that bothers me. A lot.
A few weeks ago I was at a pitch when the client asked a question about Chinese mothers.
When I was explaining the fundamental conflict so many were facing deep inside, I realised I was literally tearing up.
I WAS CLOSE TO CRYING IN A PITCH!
And you know what … instead of everyone pissing themselves laughing, there was literally a stunned silence in the room.
Not because they were shocked that some 41 year old bloke was tearing up, but because some 41 year old, bald bloke from Nottingham had made them feel – or understand – what their Mum’s [or, in some cases, them themselves] were going through.
No planning charts.
No proprietary tools.
Just good ol’ emotions, expressed from a Mothers point of view rather than an ad person.
I’m not trying to put myself up as something special, far from it, but I am saying that emotions are the most powerful way to express and communicate and if as planners we approach everything with the cold, clinical and calculated view of a researcher, we are denying ourselves [let alone our clients and our audience] the ability to truly understand and connect with others … which in these days of technological advancement and ever shifting circumstances and environments, is the only consistently powerful piece of armory we have.
Of course tearing up in a meeting doesn’t prove you have empathy, if anything, it just proves you’re a little strange … and please don’t think I am suggesting every ad should be a tear jerker [but it would make a change from the almost constant ‘contrived happiness’ being shoved down our throats] … I’m simply saying that as an industry we go on about the power of emotions and yet 95% of what we do is bereft of anything to do with them even though, as we all know and as I said earlier, when you really connect to how people feel, magic happens:
About 10 trillion times better than the first John Lewis ad they did.
Still think selling ‘colour’ for colour televisions, is weak, but as an ad it worked beautifully.
You know I was going to put this one in didn’t you …
And finally, one of my faves, even though I am obviously incredibly biased, ha!
[You can read about the background to it here]
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