Bohdi Lewis and Grant Flannery are modern day Mad Men. They’re senior strategists at The White Agency. On Monday September 1, they became Industry Heroes to a bunch of young creatives at Miami Ad School. You see, these admen have worked out something that the rest of adland doesn’t like to admit. Advertising is fundamentally the same game it has always been. The rules – or as strategists call them, principles – haven’t changed. It’s just that the game is played now on a schmick new playing field.
So what are Flannery and Lewis’ 10 things that haven’t changed in adland?
1. LIVE AND BREATHE YOUR CLIENTS’ PRODUCTs
This doesn’t mean that having an alcohol account means you can spend all arvo drinking in the boardroom. [Ok, so maybe it once did.] It means talking about your clients’ products on social media (You have to know what you’re talking about first, yes?). Getting your friends to use the products and listening to what they say about them. “We join forces and write blogs that have reference back to clients’ work or products.”
So the 1st enduring principle is Taste it, feel it, get to know it. Spend time with people who already love the product. If you work on Pepsi don’t buy Coca-Cola.
2. RESEARCH IS ONLY A GUIDE
Marketing people have been ignoring this rule for decades. Happily, these days there is unlimited access to research making it hard to know what to use (to kill brave ideas). “We use rich data across multiple sources to tell stories and make hypotheses.”
The 2nd enduring principle is: Research is important. One size does not fit all. Use it as a guide. Balance art with science.
3. REFRAME THE PROBLEM
There are all sorts of problems that ads are asked to solve. Task number one is to get to the heart of the problem and find out whose problem it is. Hint: It’s quite possibly not the marketing director’s. And it may not be a communications problem. “We use technology and creativity to change the way brands do business and reinvent the way people connect with and experience brands.” If your client has business problem, work out the solution and give it to the CFO.
3rd enduring principle: Get to the heart of the problem. Think outside the category.
4. THE BEST INSIGHTS ARE THE OBVIOUS ONES
Save your creative thinking for presenting the solution in a surprising and memorable way. Use logical thinking to get from the what to the why of a problem. The underlying human motivation will be a basic urge.
4th enduring principle: Don’t overcomplicate the “reason why”.
5. MASTER THE ART OF TALKING SHIT
It’s so tried and true it’s adland’s most enduring cliché…ideas can come from anywhere. And if your ad isn’t authentic it has failed already. Find out what’s real.
5th enduring principle: Identify the best shit talkers. Find the best places to talk shit, in and near your office. Always write things down.
6. GET OUT IN THE REAL WORLD
Mobile phones have reshaped how we work, making us more efficient and able to collaborate and co-create anywhere, anytime. The long Friday lunch is no longer the ideas incubator. Ideas born on a Friday now still look good in the cold light of Saturday morning.
6th underlying principle: You’re paid to work not to come in to work – get out there. Spend time in places you wouldn’t normally go. Go for runs during lunch and see how many ideas you can have in the hour.
7. STORY BUILDING
Ads have always told stories. In 1960, ad stories were about “other people”. Now, “we make consumers feel involved in the story,build connections with consumers and make our stories relevant to their lives.”
7th enduring principle. Don’t just tell a story to your consumer, put him in it. Let him interact with it. Watch every Pixar film ever made to understand story building.
8. MEASURE ONCE, CUT TWICE
You don’t know everything, even after you’re read the brief, binged on the product and observed how you consumers use your product and why. Don’t set yourself up for a shock discovery after the fact.
8th enduring principle: Get ideas in peoples’ hands: launch, test, optimise, repeat.
9. BUILD YOUR OWN BRAND
Reputation is everything in adland. Always has been, always will be.
9th underlying principle: It’s no longer about conforming. We are expected to be versatile and adapt. Think of yourself like a brand. Know who you are at your core. Know your brand positioning. Think about your different audiences and adapt the way you present yourself. But always be genuine.
10. LOVE WHAT YOU DO
Ask any of adland’s greats: they all do (or did).
10th enduring principle: Enjoy yourself. Don’t take things personally. Celebrate the wins. Learn from the losses. Take time to recharge. Start every new day like it’s your first day.
[Photo : British GQ/Facebook]