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Researchers in Advertising

My first (and best) intentions were for this to be a thoughtful blog post about account planning and marketing research. And to start out, I’d post a photo of the actor Joe Morton in his role as a black, alien refugee in Harlem from the film Brother From Another Planet.

For those of you who haven’t seen this flick, consider it the 8-track version of District 9. But then I came across this–oh so sweet!–trailer on YouTube; it’s particularly entertaining if not particularly relevant.

Like many of my favorite films, Brother From Another Planet can be neatly filed in the “Title = Plot” genre (see Snakes On A Plane, and Terminator for details).

The film came to mind the other day when I read a phrase describing a certain account planner as a “true researcher”, which, to me at least, is kind of a funny way to look at things. Does a true researcher have to be truly objective? Or truly insular? Or truly … alien?

Look again–is our alien brother making another hapless attempt at a high five, or gathering consumer insights? Come to think of it, any planner worth their moleskine would jump at the chance to have “radar for a mind” and “removable eyes.”

On the other hand, as an absolute outsider, you might sacrifice some of the intimacy and insight that comes from belonging to the tribe. Perhaps a “true researcher” is a specimen with a talent for introspection. The self-dissecting-frog, as it were.

Yet another alternative is that these things aren’t mutually exclusive–maybe it takes crashing your spaceship in Harlem to get real perspective on your martian roots.

When one goes out into the world trying to discover what account planners do and what the field is about, the results are confusing to say the least. Typically, answers can range from “being the voice of the consumer,” or “bolstering creative work with cultural insights,” to *Shhh, I’m an invisible bunny drinking from the wellspring of human imagination, you can’t see me.*

Planners just cannot seem to agree on what they actually do, much to the consternation of people who are interested in planning (also known as ‘other planners’).

Redscout presents Spur — Episode 3: Are planners glorified researchers? from Redscout on Vimeo.

Photo
(image via Dario Escobar: Sports Recontextualized «)
I have a half-baked idea that I’ve been discussing with friends recently–alright, half-baked might be generous, this idea is still flour and water.
Being a communications geek in the company of more geeks, I often get onto tangents about mass media, annoying advertising, ads that don’t work, the changing media landscape, etc.
I keep coming back to the idea of a metaphor, a thing taken as something different. Metaphor is at the core of understanding and creativity, it makes it possible to take wild leaps and connect far away ideas. It can make something liquid into something more concrete, and vice versa.
Some folks, like George Lakoff, even hold that metaphors are the tools that shape how we see the world, and that understanding how we use metaphor to connect objects and ideas can pull back the curtain on how our minds work.
For instance, why are all of the metaphors for marketing about warfare? We position* ideas and products to best reach our target*. With the right strategy we might even win a price-war*.
Our messages typically get packaged, sharpened, and shipped out to reach an audience. But there’s just one problem: ideas don’t travel by freight.
This isn’t news, as brains like Seth Godin and Russell Davies will tell you, but those of us in cultures that are inundated with mass media have become desensitized to the messages we are bombarded with on a daily basis.
Apathy is a gateway drug, and it’s usually the best defense against the weapons of mass distraction that litter most public spaces under the guise of commercial speech. But–and here’s the interesting part–there’s another way to communicate with people that doesn’t rely on the packaging of content, but rather the illumination of context. Design.
It makes sense that the professionals who routinely get pre-packaged content (along with a scribbled note that says ‘make this pretty’) are experts in getting an idea across through context.
Commercial communicators (advertisers, marketers, bears who dance with signs) have a lot to learn (read:steal) from the designer’s toolbox.
A lot of the best art inspires, in part, because it makes a space for a person to enter in to and live their own story. Also, I think we’re too quick to forget that all of those Medici sculptures and temples (David and Il Duomo included) were ads in their own way … for a bank!
The beauty of digital media is that background and foreground can swap pretty effortlessly. Messages can be subtle, pixelated, and elegant, all without the aid of an idea assembly line.
//How many ads can you think of that would’ve benefited from a little negative space?
//How many jokes are better when told REALLY LOUD?//(almost none)
//As Ogilvy put it, “I have a passion for landscape, and I have never seen one improved by a billboard.”
//Considering that I spend an inordinate amount of my time absorbing touch screen radiation, I’d like nothing better than to see an ad that was actually beautiful, or even cool.
//Ultimately, being cool is useless, except for when it makes something interesting.
Just a thought …

(image via Dario Escobar: Sports Recontextualized «)

I have a half-baked idea that I’ve been discussing with friends recently–alright, half-baked might be generous, this idea is still flour and water.

Being a communications geek in the company of more geeks, I often get onto tangents about mass media, annoying advertising, ads that don’t work, the changing media landscape, etc.

I keep coming back to the idea of a metaphor, a thing taken as something different. Metaphor is at the core of understanding and creativity, it makes it possible to take wild leaps and connect far away ideas. It can make something liquid into something more concrete, and vice versa.

Some folks, like George Lakoff, even hold that metaphors are the tools that shape how we see the world, and that understanding how we use metaphor to connect objects and ideas can pull back the curtain on how our minds work.

For instance, why are all of the metaphors for marketing about warfare? We position* ideas and products to best reach our target*. With the right strategy we might even win a price-war*.

Our messages typically get packaged, sharpened, and shipped out to reach an audience. But there’s just one problem: ideas don’t travel by freight.

This isn’t news, as brains like Seth Godin and Russell Davies will tell you, but those of us in cultures that are inundated with mass media have become desensitized to the messages we are bombarded with on a daily basis.

Apathy is a gateway drug, and it’s usually the best defense against the weapons of mass distraction that litter most public spaces under the guise of commercial speech. But–and here’s the interesting part–there’s another way to communicate with people that doesn’t rely on the packaging of content, but rather the illumination of context. Design.

It makes sense that the professionals who routinely get pre-packaged content (along with a scribbled note that says ‘make this pretty’) are experts in getting an idea across through context.

Commercial communicators (advertisers, marketers, bears who dance with signs) have a lot to learn (read:steal) from the designer’s toolbox.

A lot of the best art inspires, in part, because it makes a space for a person to enter in to and live their own story. Also, I think we’re too quick to forget that all of those Medici sculptures and temples (David and Il Duomo included) were ads in their own way … for a bank!

The beauty of digital media is that background and foreground can swap pretty effortlessly. Messages can be subtle, pixelated, and elegant, all without the aid of an idea assembly line.

//How many ads can you think of that would’ve benefited from a little negative space?

//How many jokes are better when told REALLY LOUD?//(almost none)

//As Ogilvy put it, “I have a passion for landscape, and I have never seen one improved by a billboard.”

//Considering that I spend an inordinate amount of my time absorbing touch screen radiation, I’d like nothing better than to see an ad that was actually beautiful, or even cool.

//Ultimately, being cool is useless, except for when it makes something interesting.

Just a thought …

Photoset

izmia:

Creative Reporters Without Borders Advertisement: Power of Pencils - Yaratıcı Sınır Tanımayan Gazeteciler Reklamı: Kalemlerin Gücü.

This great new campaign for the organisation Reporters Without Borders, Germany , is showing the power of the tools of Reporters Without Borders, a organisation that fights for the freedom of press in countries like the Iran, Russia or Zimbabwe and all over the world.

Video
Quote
"BBH and W K Now without doubt there are some fundamental differences between the 2 companies – some good, some not so good – however the thing I find fascinating are their commonalities, of which a number of them, I believe, have directly enabled them to succeed while others have fallen."

How To Outrun The Inevitable - Robert Campbell - The Denver Egotist

Link

I’ll have to check this out when I’m not in insomnia mode …

Video

An absolutely brilliant campaign. (I wish I’d found this earlier.) Work like this is putting a lot of agencies on notice.

Also, this was a great blend of branded entertainment into an integrated marketing/pr campaign.

Gatorade - replay (by OvoCesarianoBlog)

Photoset

jenudi:

Texas Dept. of Public Safety public service announcement

(Source: jenniferpatankar)