Whether it’s qual, quant or O.T.S, ROI, A/B testing or big data, when numbers turn up in marketing they must be obeyed.
They’re distilled and translated into ‘rules’.
Everyone wants their next campaign to be better than their last, but applying these ‘learnings’ to creative work often kills it.
It can feel uncomfortable, because what’s being said makes total sense, but the effect is to complicate and make your ad more like every other ad out there.
The ones you and 90% of the public ignore every day.
But weirdly, running ads like those getting ignored is considered ‘playing it safe’.
Whereas breaking away from that losing formula is viewed as risky.
Common sense tells you this is wrong, the people writing the cheques tell you this is right.
Unfortunately, numbers can kick the shit out of common sense.
It’s not even a fair fight.
So ideas that divided people get turned into ideas that everyone feels the equally about.
Nobody hates them, nobody loves them and everyone can understand the logic behind the changes, even if they disagree.
But if nobody behind the work loves it, why would they imagine the public would?
In the 1990s, half of the top ten biggest grossing films ever were directed by Steven Spielberg and was asked how he picked such popular scripts – “I look for scripts I like, I like them others might too.”
The best demonstration of this battle between gut and logic was written by Rob Morris, back in the 80s, it showed the effects of client feedback to a Parker Pen ad, it gets worse with each piece of feedback.
What I liked about it was that the feedback wasn’t stupid, mostly, but the effects were catastrophic.
A few years after reading it I discovered Rob had based it on similar article by Fred Manley, in the sixties, using the VW ‘Think Small’ ad.
Since then I’ve done my own versions of the article for clients I’ve worked with, it’s been useful in demonstrating how well-meaning, thoughtful input can lead to less effective advertising.
That small changes can have big consequences.
It’s the classic frog boiling experiment – they don’t notice the temperature increasing until they’re dead.
Below are four frogs being boiled.
FRED MANLEY’S GREAT,
ROB MORRIS’S RIP OFF
OF FRED MANLEY’S GREAT,