Trick or Truth

December 1, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

Here’s a little story about advertising within a story about truth. Our client, Ryan from the UK, sent it to us.

I like this very much for the inspiration to remember we are creating products and communications that have to work hard in the marketplace. We too often get caught up in the success of a meeting and yield to our own desires, too far from the needs of the consumer. In that smaller meeting room with internal agendas, we can unknowingly get smaller-minded, choke off opportunity.

Ryan’s story reminds us why we do what we do together so passionately – to create growth in the marketplace and to please consider who is doing the buying and who we are competing against. Here the agency gave the client the opportunity to feel not like an innovator, an entrepreneur, but a consumer – the role that could help him make the best call for the work. At first it appears like just a selling trick but it is really a wonderful way to get to the truth. A trick, yes, but with a happy ending!

Reminder for the agency: we also need to go through this porthole to understand the consumer, the competitive set, as well as the client’s state of mind. The more we can understand our constituents the better we can all do our work, harmoniously and productively.

Thanks Ryan!

THE TRAIN IS LEAVING THE STATION.

My wife is an art director.

Recently she went to The Marketing Forum.

Being a creative, she expected to be bored by lots of case histories, graphs, charts, numbers.

But one client told an amazingly creative story about the birth of a brand.

It started when he was working in Belgium.

Every day he had to try to sell margarine (butter-flavoured spread) to people who didn’t want it.

It was dispiriting work.

To cheer himself up, every day he went to the same pastry shop and ate a delicious chocolate pastry.

Eventually it became clear to him.

“I don’t like margarine.

I do like chocolate.

I’m in the wrong game.”

Doing what you love is always the best idea.

So he quit his job and began working on perfecting a delicious, rich, chocolate pudding.

He worked on it until he had it exactly right.

Now he needed marketing.

He needed a positioning, a name, packaging, a brand in fact.

So he went to see an agency and asked if they could do that for him.

They said leave it with us.

So he waited.

And he waited.

Three weeks later they hadn’t contacted him, so he called them.

They said “We-ell…. You’d better come in, we’ve got something to show you.”

He went to see them.

They said, “We’ve got some bad news we’re afraid. It looks like someone else has already done it.”

His jaw dropped.

They said “Yes, unfortunately, virtually the same product, same positioning, everything. We’ve managed to get hold of some pictures.

If you promise not to let it leave this room, we’ll show you.”

He nodded.

They said “You wanted a stylish, classy chocolate pudding, deliciously gooey, yet premium? Look, theirs is called Gu.

It’s got the German umlaut (two little dots) over the letter U, so it looks like a smiley face. And it rhymes with ‘goo’ so it’s fun but classy.

A bit like Haagen Dazs.”

The client’s face fell, he said, “I can’t believe it. That’s a great name.”

They said “Yes, and look at the packaging: it’s dark, rich, elegant. Indulgent and chocolaty, but also stylish.”

The client said “This is terrible. How advanced are they.”

They said “Their sales force is ready to start selling it in. We’re worried because we think they’ll be very successful.”

The client said “What do you mean: you think they’ll be successful. Of course they’ll be successful. It’s a brilliant product, a brilliant name, a brilliant pack design. It’s exactly what I wanted dammit.”

And he sat back, depressed, thinking about all the success he could have had if only he’d got that idea first.

Then the account man smiled and said “Well if you really mean that I may have some good news for you.”

The client said, “What?”

The account man said “I made that story up. No one has actually done anything. This is our presentation to you: the name, the packaging, everything.

If you want it you can have it.”

The client said he felt as if the sun came out.

Instead of the usual shuffling, and humming and hawing he just took everything as it stood and went with it.

Isn’t that great.

We never want anything so much as when we can’t have it.

So instead of selling the client an idea in a way that lets him think he’s got all the time in the world to fiddle with every tiny unimportant detail, they let him see what’s really important.

How will he feel if he sees a competitor has done it?

If he’s been beaten to market.

He won’t quibble about the serif on the typeface.

He won’t worry that the background colour isn’t exactly 100% perfect.

He’ll just wish to God he’d done it.

What a great lesson.

Show the client the idea in a situation where he would give anything to have done it.

But it’s too late, someone else got there first.

It’s like a nightmare.

Then wake him up and tell him it was just a dream, and he’s still got a chance to do it himself.

Instead of suspicion and hesitation, he’ll feel gratitude and eagerness.

He’ll be concentrating on the 95% that’s right.

Not holding everything up for the tiny 5% that isn’t.

We’ll have a client that wants to move things forward, not hold things back.

By the way, the name of the client who told that story was James Averdieck.

And he’s just sold that brand for £35 million.


Perception and truth in advertising

April 30, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

Nursing scores high on the Gallup “respected industries” poll. Banks have plummeted. I can see that. But I get crazy when I see ad agencies ranked so low. The good news is we moved up 4%.

Advertising works in two arenas: perception and truth. One is ephemeral, one remains. One is a thought form, and like any form built from concrete or notion, it will mutate and eventually fade. Making room for more! One can be seen as bad or good. The other is.

Perception example: Fox kills rabbit. Bad for the rabbit’s babies who will not get food and will die. Good for the fox’s babies who will be able to eat. The truth is that the fox killed the rabbit.

When we create images, plans, events, or stimulation with intentions to grow! (as we call it at NYCA) businesses, we work with perceptions to tell the truth. The target audience will have an overall belief: we use that as a starting point, a connective moment, and we create from there to change or enhance behavior.

But we must always be in touch with truth as well.

Why is truth important in advertising? Isn’t it just about selling stuff – say anything you want long as the shopping cart fills? Well, for one, we need to sell again and there has to be a relationship of trust built. Research says you can’t fool more than 42.3% of the populace twice unless it deals with authentic Elvis memorabilia. The real reason is we are spending our days and night doing this, investing ourselves in it, so it must be honored. We can’t fool ourselves every day. We must believe we are doing something of worth. For us, it’s creating growth in the marketplace for our clients.

Perception: People in advertising are only interested in doing something they and their uber-stylish peers think is cool. Bad for the client who wants to sell stuff and is paying for the full intention but getting the diluted attention of the agency. Good for those who do cool stuff and get accolades from their peers. The truth is the business grew or it didn’t. Data doesn’t lie.

That’s why we say nothing matters but grow!

Even moving up the Gallup Poll.