2014 was a great year for Simpsons Creative with new business wins across the spectrum, from restaurants to professional services and property developers to sports equipment suppliers.
Richard Taylor of Simpsons Creative offers the inside track on the importance of brand and hot topics in marketing.
It used to be the legal profession that was taken to task for using a language of its own: obfuscatory jargon that only a legal professional could guide you through.
Now, when you call on the services of a design or advertising agency you will meet with ‘creatives’ who will stress the importance of ‘content’ and ‘storytelling’ in your promotion, advise you to spice it up with ‘infographics’ and point out the advantages of being ‘media agnostic’.
Confused? Well hopefully you won’t be after you’ve browsed through this glossary, designed to shine a light into the darker corners of the Creative Mystique!
The fact that some advertising is more style than substance (especially on TV) may well have driven the demand for publicity with more ‘content’. Offline and, of course, for any kind of online promotion it is absolutely vital; but the overuse of this buzzword has, ironically, rendered it meaningless.
The ‘content’ of an advertisement (or blog or press release) is its message, which when you boil it right down could be summarised as ‘buy this, feel this way, take this action’.
If you think about it, it’s impossible to have a communication without content, and when someone asks me to produce an ad with content, I’m tempted to ask them if they want words and pictures with it too!
It’s really inflation and devaluation of the language that seems to have turned half the folk in the ad industry into ‘creatives’. (The other half are ‘suits’, just so you know). In the past we used to be known as art directors, graphic designers, copywriters, and typographers.
Creative directors alone had the honorific bestowed on them. Now, in the same way that dustmen have become ‘sanitary engineers’, we’ve all moved up a grade or, more accurately, dispensed with the hierarchy altogether. As the means of production has advanced light years beyond anything that we might have imagined 20 years ago, so the opportunity for anyone to get involved in the creative process has increased and not always for the better.
Creative can, of course, still be used as an adjective in the normal way. Most of what we do in ad and design agencies is creative. This used to be called ‘blue sky thinking’ or ‘thinking out of the box’, but that’s so last millennium.
Infographics is the new term for the bar and pie charts, tables and diagrams so beloved of PowerPoint presentations. In our increasingly visually oriented culture these have now gone mainstream and form the content (see above) of many a website. The trendier examples look like the doodles bored executives make on their notepads during dull meetings.
Mind you, they can often express a complex idea simply. An infographic I saw recently explained the North-South divide with a felt tip outline of Britain and a line drawn across the Midlands labelled the Shandy line. Produced by a Northerner, naturally, where the men are men and the ale is real.
Like Max Bygraves, a lot of creatives nowadays ‘wanna tell you a story’. This comes out of a desire to ‘engage’ with and form a ‘relationship’ with customers that in the interactive age of social media, with its blogs and twitter trends, has come to take on new meaning.
Actually, the best advertising has always told its customers stories (and I don’t mean untruths). Remember the saga of Katie and Philip, the Oxo family, the romantic Cointreau couple and Maureen Lipmann’s famous (You’ve got an Ology?) commercials for BT? Great stories all, and at 30 seconds an episode better value than any soap.
You could be forgiven for thinking that a media agnostic is someone who has doubts about the effectiveness of his advertising, like John Wannamaker, who famously said that ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half’.
Actually a media agnostic is a committed believer in publicity; his reservations are about putting all his eggs in one basket and devoting his entire promotional budget to, say, TV advertising. He believes in targeting consumers through whichever media – from a tweet to a trade magazine, or bus back to an air balloon – is most likely to reach and appeal to them. This is where a multi-disciplined agency like ours, which spans traditional and digital media, comes into its own. Well, we would say that, wouldn’t we!
As business emerges from the depths of recession and looks set to fly high again, or at least free up the marketing budget a little, more and more potential clients will be contacting agencies for their help in achieving their marketing aims and, should the initial ‘chemistry meeting’ go well, they will undoubtedly be invited to visit the agency and “meet the team.”
Whisper it softly but there’s a massive sporting event of international importance about to take place and points are already being scored before a ball is kicked in anger!
Around this time of year the ad industry convenes for the Design & Art Direction Awards (D&AD), the profession’s equivalent of the Oscars.
Could you sell a theme park to the over 60s or put a positive spin on an oil spill in one tweet?
Those are amongst the challenges put to job candidates applying for work with creative consultancy Tayburn.
A tall order perhaps, but a telling one: in a commercial context creativity is ultimately about your powers of persuasion, not your ability to produce pretty words and pictures.
“What is a man, what has he got?/If not himself, then he has naught” – the closing stanza of Frank Sinatra’s signature tune and part of his ‘brand property’, expresses a sentiment appropriate to branding at its best: namely integrity.
Forget the Oscars. The new crowd-pulling blockbuster, the latest box office sensation, is the Christmas commercial from Britain’s big retailers, led this year by ‘The Bear and the Hare’ from John Lewis (5 million plus viewings on YouTube); ‘Magic & Sparkle’ from M&S (over half a million viewings); and ‘Unwrap Joy’ from Cadburys (over 85,000 viewings) as of last week.
My relationship with Marmite is a pretty ambivalent one. I don’t love it, neither do I loathe it.
In my Top Ten Tips for Copywriting (No.6 – Be Involving) I encourage advertisers to link their names – where appropriate – with the topics that form the staple fare of the tabloids and social media sites: namely children, animals, football, celebrities and, ahem, sex.
To say that the internet has brought about a social revolution is to state the obvious.
Close to 80 per cent of the population is now online and whether they spend their time shopping, gaming, social networking or simply surfing, it has become a social and business phenomenon – some might say obsession. According to a recent survey, 1 in 4 people spend more time online than they do sleeping.
In the ad world we work on the rule of thumb that you have three seconds to arrest attention with a print advertisement.
- From mad men to best buddies: Brands that want to be your friend
- Sex still sells - even though it's not allowed!
- Don’t try to gatecrash the party – throw your own!
- Social media specialists – back in the bottle?
- A bargain isn’t a bargain if it’s not your size!
- “SO THEN, TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF”
- For today only – save £4m plus on your rebrand!
- Out with the old?
- “This time next year we’ll be millionaires!”
- Mumsnet and Littlewoods ‘Little Darlings’
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