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Mr Lovemarks cops a load of shit.
And yes, I admit a lot of that has – at some point or another – come from me.
But recently I saw the above quote from him and I am prepared to cut him a bit of slack, because he’s right … incredibly correct is incredibly boring.
I don’t know if it’s ALWAYS incredibly boring, but it can definitely have moments of it.
Now I should point out that when I say this, I mean it in the context of adland. Trust me, where surgeons and pilots are concerned, I absolutely want them to always be incredibly correct and in no way would I ever consider that to be boring.
But back to my point …
You see I sometimes worry that planners are obsessed with ‘being right’.
It’s as if they view their job as one big competition and being labelled ‘the winner’ is all that matters.
However the issue is they are the only ones playing that game. They are the only ones that care.
But there’s something even worse with adopting this attitude.
To be always right means to be always in your comfort zone.
To not look a bit further.
To not surrender to instinct.
To not look beyond what has gone in the past.
Now of course, we justify this behaviour by saying “We’re doing what’s right by our clients and our audience. We’re helping them both win” … but my question is, are we?
What this approach results in is average.
And while many companies would happily choose this approach over any degree of risk, it also means we’re not planning, we’re simply packaging.
Packaging the past to represent the future.
Packaging passive to represent responsible.
Packaging category to represent relevance.
In short, in our quest to always ‘be right’, we are basically ensuring we only take on the smallest battles possible … where the goal is to steal a bit of share from one of their existing competitors in one of their existing categories.
But what if we weren’t obsessed with always being right?
What if we took some chances – calculated chances – but chances all the same?
What if we stopped helping brands ‘fit in’ with societies current point of view and started nudging/encouraging/pushing them into the unknown and exciting? A place where they can see the fascinating, interesting and intriguing?
I know … I know … ‘commercial realities’ mean this would be unprofessional.
But would it?
I could argue that actively limiting a brand from reaching its greater potential is more unprofessional.
I could say that using limited research to claim to know the audience is more unprofessional.
I could state basing decisions on what the competition are doing rather than what the audience want is more unprofessional.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should adopt an attitude of ‘experiment without consequence’.
That might be nice, but that’s not what we’re paid to do.
My argument is that if we stop our obsession with being always right and start embracing sources of influence that go outside of our carefully constructed, job security pedestals, we might end up somewhere new, interesting and bigger.
Not just in terms of advertising, but in terms of commercial impact.
Of course this needs to be done with a level of responsibility, but if we want planning to be more highly regarded and respected – seen as a tool of liberation rather than protection – then it’s time to stop trying to always be right and start taking on the unknown.
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