I few months back I recorded a podcast with Richard Shotton, one of the brightest people in the business.
Whilst preparing I read Richard’s book, The Choice Factory, it’s great, full of fascinating insights and observations on human behaviour and how we respond to marketing.
Whilst taking in all this intelligent insight an interesting theory occurred to me; why don’t we just create ads that people like?
Granted, it’s no theory of relativity, but it’s odd that it’s barely a consideration.
We assess everything about our audience, their lifestyles, preferences and behaviours but not whether they’d like the thing we’re making for them.

I put this to Richard, why not put out messages people will enjoy consuming?
We chewed it over for a while but neither of us could think of a reason why not.
(You can hear the chewing here:

So I’ve decided to officially put it forward as a theory, like Brand Purpose, Disruption and all those others. 
Obviously ‘Doing ads that people like’ doesn’t sound like a proper theory, so I need a good name.
Probably a mash-up.
Something cool sounding, scientific and edgy.
Let’s face it; none of us would be talking about ‘Disruption’ if TBWA had called it ‘Doing Things Different From Other People’ back in the day.
I’ve started working on it, I have a few thoughts, but don’t feel I’ve completely nailed it yet, these are very much working progress, so let’s keep them between us for the moment; Likeification, The Looky-Likey Amalgam or FormLika.
(If anyone has any better suggestions, do send them in; the name is absolutely critical to the uptake of this theory.)

If I can nail the name I really think it has legs.


1. If people like the way your ad talks to them they’re more likely to like your company over those that patronise, bore or lie to them.
So are more likely to buy it.

2. If people like the way your ad talks to them they’re more likely to listen to what you say, which means they’ll know more about your company than companies who run ‘hardworking’, boring ads that they ignore every day.
So are more likely to buy it.

3. Creating stuff that we like for others to like would make our business more fun.

4. Like it or not, advertising is a big part of our lives.
It’s part of our cultural and social landscape, it can either feel toxic or something that people, our families and friends like or something that is ignored or repels them.

5. And this is the kicker, this is AMAZING!
A bit of desk research has brought to my attention that there’s now a way for ordinary people, civilians, to let other civilians know that they like our ads!
And here’s the exciting bit, when they push a button that says ‘like’, hundreds and thousands of other people then see our ad for free.
FREE! No media costs, apparently they ‘share’ them with friends?
Not a few, hundreds and thousands and millions of new people get to see your ad.
WHAT. AN. OPPORTUNITY. ((It only works if they like your ad.)


Laughing. (This is their favourite.)
Smiling. (All kinds; wry, cheeky even those ‘mind smiles’.)
Information. (Has to be useful.)
Observations. (Has to be interesting.)
There’s a whole laundry list of other stuff, but these are the main ones.


Well, branding, relevance and differentiation is still really important, but the way you mix them together should feel effortless, simple and entertaining. (People like that ‘feel’.)
I’m loathe to start coming up with rules, obviously, this is a brand new theory, so it’s a bit early for that, but here’s a few tips may help, very much a work in progress:

a) Create something YOU like.
If you don’t like it why should anyone else?

b) Picture someone you know, a friend, brother or colleague, try to imagine whether they’d like your ad.
As Howard Gossage said ‘I don’t know how to speak to everybody, only somebody’.

c) Take in a lot of information; about product, company, media, design, the audience, photography, films, shows, people, the World basically.
All this stuff will mix together while you’re doing other stuff, then, it’ll percolate, then, unannounced, sometimes at inconvenient moments, and a fully formed idea will pop up.
These ‘out of the blue’ type ideas tend to feel fresh, effort-less and fun.
Sometimes they can feel obvious too, not in a bad way, in a ‘why would you do anything else?’.

I like them because I liked the way they talked to me.

Let’s get to work!
















  1. Great stuff, Dave! If I were a commercial t.v. company, I’d just re-run old ads from these companies – many of which still exist. Why bother with the current dross? A sweeping generalisation, I know, but not far from the truth. P.P.x

  2. Graham Pugh says:

    Ah, how lovely to see these ads again. Like the Wendy’s fashion show – I remember the thrill of slotting in the u-Matic of the Sedelmeier showreel, and the Dulux Heineken ad – who would cast that guy in a beer ad now? Thanks for a great read and a smile. Very likeable.

  3. Kate Lightfoot says:

    Couldn’t agree with this more.

    Here are some more potential names, so we can sell the revolutionary ‘just make good ads’ theory to corporate monkeys who only believe it’ll work if it sounds new-fangled:

    – Affection Advertising
    (you could make a cool matrix/graph showing that ‘more affection = more effective’)
    – Likeitism
    – Partiality
    – The Attraction Effect (this also reminds me of that old sun and wind fable:
    – Likeability

    • dave dye says:

      I think we’re really making progress here Kate.
      I often use that wind & Sun Fable, (to be fair, most people look blankly back, but I like it).

  4. Joel Woodford says:

    It sounds so obvious it’s hard to tell how much of this post is sarcastic (except for the name ‘Looky-Likey Amalgam’) but I totally agree – when did the industry forget the importance of putting smiles on people’s faces above all else? As for potential names, here are a few suggestions:

    – Endorphinism
    – Sugar Rushing (tad aggressive)
    – Delightism
    – Enchantment
    – Palatableness
    – Affinitist Advertising
    – The Pearly White Route (or ‘Root’…anyone? Fine).


    • dave dye says:

      Thanks Joel, maybe we could abbreviate ‘The Pearly White Route’, PWR might work? Dx

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