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Some of the best of some of the best

Below are some of the quotes I marked on reading ‘A Masterclass in brand planning: the timeless works of Stephen King’. They’re not even a vague substitute for the book itself, and primarily meant to help me find some fantastic nuggets (from Stephen King, and the book’s other authors) later.

Enjoy

stephen-king-brand-planning-thumb

From John Treasure’s ‘The Origins of Account Planning’, quoting from Stephen King’s T-Plan:

‘I think the main requirement for a new system of setting creative strategy is that it should be more in terms of the consumer. Our objective must be a certain state of mind in the potential buyer, not a certain type of advertisement… It must be essentially a consumer system because advertisements are means not ends. Until we know more about how they work and what sort work best, strategy should be about ends.

‘We can only get a comprehensive system of objectives in terms of the consumer’s mind. It is the one thing in common to product design, marketing strategy, creative strategy, media strategy, testing effectiveness. Most advertising aims to intensify or lessen people’s existing predispositions. It is not trying to drive something new into their brains.

‘Modern psychological theory shows that what is put into an advertisement can be very different from what is got out of it. It is the response that concerns us.

‘Setting creative strategy in consumer terms can eliminate ambiguous advertising jargon (brand image, copy platform etc.) This sort of system is far less constricting to creative people.’

(page 14)

From John Treasure’s ‘The Origins of Account Planning’, quoting from James Webb Young’s How to become an advertising man:

‘Finding the one best opportunity in the market for the particular advertiser, and shaping his advertising to exploit that opportunity, is on one of the greatest contributions the Advertising Man can make to his client. And his chances of making that contribution, I repeat, will depend upon his penetration into the real facts and nuances of that advertiser’s situation.’

(page 16)

From ‘What is a brand?’

‘People choose their brands as they choose their friends. You choose friends not usually because of specific skills or physical attributes (though of course these come into it) but simply because you like them as people. It is the total person you choose, not a compendium of virtues and vices.’

(page 32)

‘They [consumers] will value brands for who they are as much as what they do.

‘I think that in the advertising business we may all have been slow to recognize this because there is still a Puritan streak in us which says that it is wicked for people to have non-functional values, that they ought to buy brands fro function and performance only. I cannot really see any reason why we should have this feeling. If we are really honest with ourselves we must surely admit that on the whole the non-functional pleasures that we ourselves get are more intense and meaningful than the functional.

(page 33)

‘And thirdly, we can recognize that advertising itself is a totality. A campaign, like a brand, is not just a number of bits put together – a claim here, a pack shot there, a reason why somewhere else. If we try to produce it by the atomistic approach, we will end up with a sort of Identikit brand. It will be a perfect description of the structure of the brand, as the Identikit can describe the contours of the face. But it won’t be the same thing. The brand will never come to life.’

(page 40)

From Rory Sutherland’s introduction to ‘Advertising: Art and Science’:

[on the topic that creativity and planning could be done at the same time]

‘[a fallacy of the likes of…] to use the words of an Ogilvy planner, John Shaw, “that you can make distillation precede fermentation”.

‘Why does all this matter so very much?

‘At one level, it matter to me as a creative person because, in maintaining the pretence that our business works through a rational and sequential process, I feel we are perpetrating a minor fraud. And the victim of this fraud is creativity itself. Because in suggesting in our case studies that we arrived at success through process, we are falsely paying to logic a debt that we really owe to magic. The magic of imagination, or insight. And, as a result, we are causing the left brain to be overvalued at the expense of the right.

‘But to any agency paid by the hour, process is so wonderfully time-consuming isn’t it?

‘This debate also matters because I sincerely believe that a relentless application of sequential logic untempered by imagination is responsible for the greatest absurdities and extravagances we see in business  and government. The 3G auction; NHS target setting; the ERM debacle; obsessive punctuality targets for trains – all have been perpetrated by people following the relentless dictates of logic without an imaginative grasp of the alternatives. And logic – unlike creativity – is allowed to go unpoliced.

‘Sutherland’s first law states that “All creative people must submit that their thinking for appraisal by more rational people”. The second law states that “This does not apply the other way round”. No one engaged in 3G auctioned thought to ask what else you could do with £16billion – such as installing public wifi in every hamlet in Britain. No one spending £6billion on the Channel Tunnel Fast Link  asked whether £6billion might improve the lot of passengers if spent some other way than by marginally accelerating the trains. They already had their formulae, thanks very much’

(page 43)

From ‘Advertising: Art and Science’:

‘[…] I’d like to take you briefly through a real case history. This isn’t the usual sort of agency case history in which our immaculate heroes proceed, without hesitation, from brilliant analysis to startling conclusion and in the final frames stride into the sunset pursued by pathetic bleats of gratitude from their half-witted clients. I’d like to try and tell you what really happened. This one started off with a man from Rowntree finding some chocolate peppermint creams in the USA and, being a wise man, he said, “Ah, those look nice” and he brought some home. It didn’t start off with a multistage stratified segmentation analysis of something called the Peppermint Cream Market; it started off with a nice piece of luck.’

(page 51)

[against traditional advertising models such as USP]

‘But if you think of all the big decisions and issues in your lives – religion, sex, marriage, children houses, education, politics, prejudice, lifestyle, patriotism – all these are spurred mainly by emotional feelings. Emotion is much the largest element in making those decisions, and I can’t for the life of me see why, if all the important decisions are based on emotion, one should suddenly go all rational about soap powder. The real problem is that all these old models of advertising are still the Old Science. They are looking for a logical, deductive system for how advertising works. They are all about what ought to go into ads, about what ads to people. I think the New Science started coming to advertising when we started to realize that this was starting at the wrong end. The planning should start not with what ads do to people, but with what people do with ads. Not what goes in, but what people get out. How they might respond. In other words, Popper’s trial solution. I think that this was a very fundamental change. I find it very sad […] that still so much of the language and discussion about advertising, particularly in the USA, is based on the Old Science. I can’t help feeling that it is what lies behind all those commercials that treat me as if I were a mentally defective three-year-old.’

(page 540

From ‘Inter-media Decisions: Implications for Agency Structure’:

‘So, in JWT, the whole process has been a continuation of the development of such a “philosophy”, which had come increasingly to the conclusion that campaign planning and basic media planning (inter-media decisions) are really the same job. They are linked by the way in which we set advertising objectives. The sequence has, in grossly oversimplified terms, been worked out in this way:

‘a. Advertising for mass-consumption brands works, first, in the long run by adding to the total satisfactions of the brand (Lehman, 1968); secondly in the short run, by adding salience or immediacy to the brand (McDonald, 1969)

‘b. The total satisfactions of a brand are caused by a unique blend of physical product and communication, and they are a blend of sensual, rational and emotional satisfactions.

‘c. Being a unique blend, the brand will not appeal to everyone. The specialization of appeal aimed for will depend on the nature of the market and competition

‘d. Therefore, translation of marketing plan into advertising objectives will mean, first, working out the precise nature of the brand’s satisfactions and whom it is to satisfy, in terms of appeals to senses, reason and emotions; then deciding what particular contribution each marketing factor (including advertising) can play. Secondly, relating marketing tactics to the salience values of marketing.

‘e. Thus we end with a simple format for setting objectives that will link all aspects of advertising planning, based on:

‘(i) a target group (including its size, whereabouts, attitudes, and current behaviour);

‘(ii) a set of desired responses at the sensual, rational and emotional levels

‘(iii) timing, which deals with the salience values, by way of a theory of how precisely the advertising is expected to work.

‘f. So in terms of inter-media decisions, advertising objectives are set in exactly the same was as for creative strategy. The questions to be answered are:

‘(i) What is the target group? So into analysis of medium-as-vehicle

‘(ii) What medium or media can best contribute to the brands appeal to the senses, reason and emotions? Or, what are the media values – physical, functional and emotional – that will best contribute? So in into analysis of medium-as-medium and medium-as-message

‘(iii) How to schedule the advertising to maximize salience, while building up long-term added value to the brand.’

(pages 103-104)

In the introduction  by Paul Feldwick to ‘What can pre-testing do?’

‘It remains a matter of fact that there is an inverse correlation between the use of quantative pre-testing and success in the IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards.’

(page 108)

In ‘Advertising Idea’:

‘This means that the creative treatment should not only use the “best” craft skills of writing, art direction, film production etc., but also based on a genuine advertising idea. It should not be either a mere description of the brand, a dull shopping list of product attributes, or, on the other hand, a mere dazzling executional technique with no centre to it. It should not be a standard family smiling at the brand while the voice-over reads out the strategy. Nor should it be simply taking the pack-shot onto a frog singling “Hello Dolly”.’

(page 145)

‘The process starts with background knowledge. You have to understand the issues, the subject, the people and their motivations and lives very thoroughly. Very often invention starts with a dissatisfaction with existing theories and the status quo. This stage ends with working out what is the right problem to solve.’

(page 147)

Tom Doctoroff quote Rupert Murdoch in his piece relating to ‘Advertising Idea’:

‘The internet is a creative, destructive technology that is still in its infancy, yet breaking and remaking everything in its path. We are all on a journey, not just the privileged few, and technology will take us to a destination which is defined by the limits of our creativity, our confidence and our courage’.

In ‘Can Research Evaluate the Creative Content of Advertising’:

‘The most important theory in communications psychology in recent years is the recognition that one very powerful motivating force is the desire for consistency of beliefs and feelings – or “cognitive balance” (Hovland et al., 1953; Festinger, 1957; Cohen, 1964). Many experiments have been done, and there is overwhelming evidence of people’s ability to pay attention to things selectively, and to bend communications so as to fit in with their existing system of beliefs, feelings and desires. This has several important implications for advertising theory:

‘1. Any theory based on crude conversion seems a little dubious […]

‘2. People are likely to eliminate tensions and “dissonance” that researchers have found to exist in the making of choice, by forming of habits and buying routines.

‘3. In order to maintain cognitive consistency, people are likely to find rationalizations for having bought a brand. They are likely to be more favourable to a brand after buying it that before. Practically all the psychological theory implies very strongly that rationalization has an important part to play in confirming and strengthening  behaviour, but it foes not promote the original desire from a product and cannot work without this desire.

‘The other important work that seems to have a very direct relevance is that of the Gestalt psychologists (Koffka, 1935) on perception. Their basic theory was that we do not attempt – even if we could – to perceive accurately every detail of the physical structure of objects viewed or listen to every word of a verbal communication. We take the trouble to perceive only as much  as is necessary to help us to classify the object or the message; the rest is ignored as redundant. In other words, we perceive things as a whole, using only the minimum of clues or symbols to help us.

‘A third area of communication research that is relevant is that of learning. what seems to have been shown by a number of experiments is the irrelevance of learning by rote to other forms of learning – especially the incidental learning of advertising and buying habits […] My favourite case history is one in which Brand A was clearly associated with the advertising slogan “cost  least to buy”; but Brand B was thought to be lower in price.

‘Krugman (1965) goes further and suggests that since the learning process in  advertising is really one of non-involvement, any signs in advertising research interviews of the sort of learning that exists in high-involvement situations are the results of the interviews themselves.’

(page 187)

In ‘Applying research to decision making’

[Following analysis of why gap analysis doesn’t always generate viable products]

‘[…] And within that n-dimensional concept space there are masses of new products just waiting to be analysed into the open. This is just one of the many infallible [sarcastic] systems based on the idea that you can invent by deduction. Somehow an invention can be produced by a step-by-step method, untouched by human mind.

‘This deductive approach is by no means confined to quantitative research. All over the London suburbs are little collections of eight housewives who are expected to tell manufacturers what the strategies and brand positioning for new brands should be. They are thereto pass judgement and discriminate between  things called Concepts – sort of Platonic Idea of a brand from which all emotion has been drained. Once these modern Delphic oracles have chosen the concept, the manufacturer can of course hype it up with the optional extras like naming, advertising and packaging, and sprinkle a little brand image over the whole dish.

‘Perhaps the most overt attempt to apply research directly to decision making has been in off-the-peg advertising research. Advertising research is an unusual type in that as often as not the research method is chosen first and the problem to be sorted out afterwards, if indeed at all. This happens because it’s terrible hard to know how advertising works. So people say: “At least let’s pick a measure that we know how to use.” It’s as if an art critic said, “I don’t know how to measure artistic merit, but I do understand how this tape measure works, sow we’ll use that.”‘

(pages 219-220)

Chris Forrest in his introduction to ‘Conficts in Democracy: the Need for more Opinion Research’:

‘In the mid-1990s Michael Moore’s TV show pioneered a post-modern playfulness with dumb research event polls (“46% of Americans said they would rather be killed by a serial killer than by a mass murderer”).’

(page 227)

[on using ‘personal and concrete’ questioning, rather than ‘general and abstract’]

‘”Advertising often misleads people” will still get strong agreement. “I am frequently misled by the ads I see” will still produce strong disagreement.

(page 228)

Inspiration

Nicholas Negroponte’s stepped down as chair of MIT’s Media Lab to work on One Laptop Per Child “for the rest of my life.”

Clinton on the world

Bill Clinton’s take on the problems in the world, taken from Metro on Friday 17 August.

Bill Clinton

I sometimes wonder how people who want to be well-informed make sense of the disparate things occurring in the world. I believe every committed citizen of the world needs to be able to answer five questions. I’ll give you the questions and my answers. You don’t have to agree with my answers but you need your own. The questions are:

  1. What is the fundamental nature of the 21 century world?
  2. Is it a good or a bad thing?
  3. How would you like to change it?
  4. What steps are necessary to change it?
  5. Who’s supposed to take those steps?

Self-evidentially, the nature of the 21 century world is “globalisation” but I prefer “interdependence” as a word. Globalisation has an almost exclusive economic connotation. Interdependence means we can’t escape each other and have a chance to affect each other’s welfare.

The answer to the second question is clearly “good and bad”. What’s good is self-evident. I went to Paris for a wedding. Since I don’t speak French, I had to watch two British news outlets on TV. That’s positive.

Then there are negatives. What happened in the UK with the three car bombs was also a manifestation of interdependence. Doctors who spent a lifetime learning to save lives set in motion plans they hoped might kill more people than they had saved in their entire medical career. People are ambivalent about this interdependence. It raises questions not just of security but of identity.

Question three. If there’s something you don’t like about the interdependent world, it probably falls into one of three categories. The interdependent world is unequal. Half the planet lives on less than two dollars a day. Secondly, it’s unstable because of terror and the prospect of the spread of diseases. Thirdly, it’s unsustainable because of climate change change and resource depletion. So you have to do something about inequality, instability and sustainability.

What steps are necessary to change it? We should move the world from interdependence which is unequal, unstable and unsustainable to communities, locally, nationally and globally. Every truly successful community – whether it’s a nation, a town, a sports team, a marriage, a family – has three things in common: shared opportunities to participate; a genuine sense of shared responsibility for the communities success; and a sense of belonging.

How do we move from interdependence to community?  First, you have to have a security policy. There are people out there who don’t want this to work, who cannot be reasoned with. You also have to have a more vigorous diplomatic effort because there are limits to the ability of any military policy to prevail in any place in the world. Finally you have to have a policy to fill the world with more partners and fewer enemies. If the world is truly interdependent, it means that, among other things, you cannot possibly kill or occupy everyone who doesn’t like you. The fourth thing is home improvement. Things must keep improving at home.

Governments and organizations such as the UN have to take the lead in security and diplomacy. But in making a world of more partners and home improvement, private citizens working through non-governmental groups are doing more than at any other time. There’s no set amount but you have to make a commitment not just to let the government do it, to be a part of it.

If you don’t remember anything else I say, remember this: every single fundamental problem of the interdependent world is rooted in an imperfect sense of identity. If we’re fighting over religious or political differences to the death, not just having an argument, if we’re hoarding our wealth instead of figuring out a way to help other people create it, if we’re not bothered by the fact that millions of children die every year of preventable causes and illnesses, it’s because we really do believe our differences are more important than our common humanity.

When the United States, the UK and several other countries pooled their funds to try and sequence the human genome, by far the most important discovery was that, genetically, every human being on the planet is 99.9 per cent the same. And yet we all spend 90 per cent of our time disagreeing. We spend 90 per cent of our time fixation on the one-tenth of one per cent that makes us different.

All of us fix our minds to obsess about things that don’t matter in the larger sweep of things. Whether we leave a world to our children where they can grow up safely and appreciate and respect our differences because our common humanity matters more – that at the root of all of this.

Identity. So I ask you to think about that. That’s something you can do something about. Every. Single. Day.

University generated content

guitar and amplifier

Just for the hell of it. Ancient four track recordings from college now on Last.FM. Also uploading the Marmalade Cat stuff. What a great site.

Safe place

A quaint message from the company behind the amazing H&M avatars. Perhaps I’m supposed to print out the details on parchment and put them in a locked box!

Keep this message in a safe locaton

30,000 feet first

 John Simpson

I’ve just spent ages looking for this article online. It’s from BA’s excellent in-flight magazine High Life. It seems a monumental shame for its distribution to be restricted to just the customers of that company who are feeling slightly bored, didn’t bring a book and can’t work their in-flight entertainment. I’m sure I’ll be told if I’ve got to remove it. I hope not.

The piece is by BBC journalist supremo John Simpson, in his “Letter from 30,000 feet” column. The subheadline says: “Flying back from Baghdad, our correspondent looks forward to a reunion with his baby son, who has charmed people the  world over, from Marrakech to France”.

 Turkey, the superb, difficult, fascinating country is unfolding itself below, its lakes glinting in the sunshine, its mountains casting long shadows over the plains. The flight from Amman to London is smooth and restful after the usual fuss in the airport about our flak jackets and electonic gear. Behind me lies a two-week stint in Baghdad, with its attendant excitements.

There was a bomb at the end of the street in central Baghdad where our office is situated, a foray into Sadr City, where we had to trust our lives and liberty to  the good faith of a particularly fierce and unpredictable militia group and the usual butterflies in the stomach every time we headed out to film in the streets, our armed guards watchful for any signs of an attack on us.

And now, ahead of me, lies a short period of pure pleasure before I have to head off again. It will begin in a few hours’ time, when our Victorian front door opens and my wife stands there with our baby son in her arms. At 14 months he now knows who I am, and the strange functions I perform: ineptly changing his nappy; whirling him around my head dangerously; singing him strange, forgotten songs from decades long past.

My wife and I travel a lot, so in his 14 months he has been four times to France, three times to South Africa, once to Morocco and once to Egypt. And, as a result, he has turned into an excellent, interested quiet companion. And I have learned to admire his calmness and self-sufficiency.

And so he attracts favourable attention. In Fez, as we wandered around the souk, the shopkeepers ran over to us just to look at him. Fortunately, he always grinned back at them. Other people kissed the tips of their fingers and touched his forehead; young men would ask to hold him, and he would laugh as they swung him round. While we ate at one of the superb open-air food stalls in the main square in Marrakech, our waiter plucked him out of his pushchair and ran off into the crowd to show him to someone.

Even I was worried by that. But Dee was more relaxed and sensible, and within a couple of minutes the waiter ran back, with Rafe laughing his arms. When he’s older, the interest will fade, and so will the special treatment we get as a family. Things change all the time anyway: he’s far too heavy now to carry  him in a pouch on my chest anymore.

In Paris a few months ago, when I went out one evening to get basic necessities – some Pont l’Eveque cheese and a bottle of Bordeaux – I took him in the pouch. And because it was raining, I buttoned my ample coat around him, leaving just his head sticking out. It didn’t occur to me that there might be anything unusual about this, until I noticed that people weere looking strangeley at us, and edging away. It can’t have helped that I was singing to him.

Then I glanced in a shop window, and understood. We looked like a two-headed monster exhibit that you used to find at fairgrounds when i was young: Rafe’s little head was sticking out of the coat a few inches underneath mine, and that was all you could see of him. I smiled at everyone after that, but it only seemed to make things worse.

Rafe was born at the beginning of 2006  but he’s already changed by life. In Baghdad I have become even angrier at the dreadful sights you see there. The bodies, the injured – they could all be him, and once upon a time, even the old ones among them were as happy an welcomed, with love and joy as he is now. I hope I never awas insensitive to these things in the past, but I’m  certainly more sensitive to them now. And I have developed a loathing for high explosive and guns, one much more intense than anything I have felt before.

Now, I imagine, we are flying over some part of old Austro-Hungarian empire, with its strip-farming and its neat little towns and villages, and the mountains in the distance, In three hours, I’ll be home

If the skies are clear, I’ll even be able to see my house, or at least the terrace it’s in, as we make our way down to Heathrow.

And, for a while I will be ab le to forget about Baghdad, and that horrible sound as another bomb goes off, and the way the windows bulge inwards with the blast, and the reek of high explsive and the churning of the stomach.

And after a day or so I’ll stop looking at Rafe as thought he’s an unimaginable miracle, even though, like any other baby, any other human being, he really is.

Pretty soon, I’ll be telling him not even to think of dropping the remote for the television in the bath, or to stop fishing in the drawers for interesting electronic goodies, and that I really mean it this time. And, for a while. life will be natural and peaceful and calm again. Not long to wait now.

Mix-up, mash-up, marr-up

Johnny Marr, recording with Modest Mouse

Just to prove you can’t keep a good man down, Johnny Marr resurfaces with style, not only joining US billboard-chart toppers Modest Mouse (below a video of them playing their new single, Dashboard, on Letterman) but also as a contributor to the new album from recently reformed Crowded House.

The story goes that when previous (and heavily Marr-influenced) Modest Mouse guitarist left the band, the lead singer Isaac Brock  figured he had nothing to lose by picking up the phone and dialing Manchester! Looking positively rock-defiant, super cool and with a near-perfect indie-haircut, I think it would be fair to say Mr Marr is back in the game. 


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