Advertising people seem to have fallen in love with the idea that what they make are ‘stories’. Often, of course, they’re not. Or not good ones anyway. Let’s examine that, I want to tell you a story… 1. The story is the frame, not the point
David Ogilvy once remarked that, in the course of his working life there was only one big idea he had failed to sell. The prospective client was a large paper company, and it had asked the Ogilvy agency in New York to produce a corporate advertising campaign. David had the Scotsman’s visceral horror of self-indulgence, and most likely despised the kind of chest-beating, self-congratulatory advertising which this particular client might have bought in a heartbeat. He went back with an altogether different idea. The company, he observed, owned a million acres or so of forestry in the United States; he recommended it should make over a small fraction of this acreage for public use, as parkland and recreation areas for the permanent enjoyment of the American public. That, he remarked, would lastingly raise the reputation and fame of the company more effectively than anything in print. Rather than attaching its brand to dead trees, the company could attach its name to living ones.
One of the great transformational experiences of my lifetime has been drinking beer in American bars. As a man who spent more of his 20s in America (and mostly in bars) than in the UK there is no-one who can testify better to just how disappointing American beer once was. Somehow Americans, and me along with them, accepted the idea that the variants offered by Budweiser, Miller and (if you really wanted to push the boat out) Coors were enough to satiate all your drinking needs. And then it all started to change. Tiny independent brewers began to spring up all over the USA. They started brewing distinctive, beautiful ales of every possible variation and inclination. These beers first appeared around the periphery of American liquor stores and independent beer shops. Then they started to pick up distribution in local bars. American palates that had been raised on watery, indistinct, mass-produced tedium suddenly started to get a taste of local, diverse, fresh, brilliantly made beer – and they liked it.
During such a fragmented time in the industry I imagine clients must find it difficult to know who to trust and who they can rely on. With a fleet of new agencies year on year and traditional agency talent moving faster than they change their underwear, it’s no wonder brand managers are longing for a bit of certainty from their “partners.”
From Just Eat's Barnaby Dawe winning Marketing Leader of the Year and Treasury Wines' Bo Jakubenko winning Young Leader of the Year to #JointheHerd taking the Grand Prix, it was a wonderful night. Enjoy the highlights and our 2018 Awards programme begins again in September 2017 on marketingsocietyawards.com