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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A curse on specialists and their fatuous lingo...

Every day I walk past a rather grand building on the same street as my squalid office which is occupied by Tribal DDB and wonder how long they will carry on doing well. They obviously have some talented people, but what are they for?

This came to mind when, as a fond connoisseur of pretentious cliche I came upon this in
Marketing magazine, which was discussing whether there was any future for digital agencies:

Dylan Williams, head of strategy at Mother, believes this is symptomatic of a watershed moment in the evolution of digital.

God, I hope he doesn't talk like that to his family, but it reminded me of something that great man Victor Ross once said which managed to belittle the tripe ad agency poseurs come out with about strategy:

"My idea of strategy is deciding where to go to lunch."

However, the article was interesting, as what Mr. Williams was talking about was that advertisers are now realising there is no good reason to go to specialist digital agencies.

As a matter of fact, it has never been clear to me why advertisers should rely so much on specialists. If you can convey ideas, know how to persuade and you take the trouble to study the various media, you should be able to work in all of them.

Your prospects do not adjust their emotions or motivations when they turn from the computer to watch the TV or pick up the paper or catch sight of a poster - any more than I do when I write this, rather than an ad or an email or draft a speech - with or without slides

Specialism is dangerous; and one good example dates back to the days when I first entered advertising. TV advertising had just arrived in the U.K. so all the agencies rushed to hire people who had film, rather than advertising experience.

It hardly ever worked. In the end the people who made the best commercials were advertising people like John Webster and Alan Parker. I worked with both of them for a while; Alan then went into films and did pretty well. I think he is now Lord Parker or something grand like that; John made more good commercials than anyone I can think of.

Incidentally, I was just about to put this up when I read another classic from an Aussie advertising mag:

It’s essential to script the customer scenarios for action that boost conversion rates. Beyond publishing content online, you need to focus on achieving your online goals, blend the push of the web with the pull of email, and track customer experiences across your multiple touch-points.

That reminds me. When he didn't like a piece of copy, Fairfax Cone would look at the writer and ask: "Would you say that to someone you know?"

Well, would you?

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