Advertising (2) — Creativity

If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative. David Ogilvy (O&M)

In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. David Ogilvy.

Is creativity in brand communication getting better, getting worse or staying the same?

Ad agency execs will tell you that creativity is alive and well and that memorable and effective advertising is as prevalent today as it was in the past. They will also add that the fragmentation of media creates an environment whereby delivering a highly effective message is diffused and expensive. And, the new media options (digital) require new forms of creativity.

The detractors will take the view that the demise of mainstream media has hurt creativity but not as much as the changes in the advertising business itself. They point out that only small, independent shops can replicate the talent of the past. The large agencies are too busy worrying about overhead and financials than concentrating on the quality of the work.

An ad agency executive friend of mine who sold his shop to one of the conglomerates tells the story of an annual agency-wide meeting a few years ago:

All the company Presidents were asked to report on the activities of their business unit. Speaker after speaker – from New York to New Delhi – talked about revenues, profitability, new business development, overhead, etc. Finally one exec from a highly creative firm couldn’t stand it anymore and got up and shouted, “Are we ever going to talk about the f*****g work we produce?”

What’s your view? Is the advertising creative in the booze business better or worse than it used to be? Hit the comment button to the upper right of this posting and let me know your view. Or, send me an email.

Finally, the most appropriate quote from David Ogilvy for this blog…

Many people – and I think I am one of them – are more productive when they’ve had a little to drink. I find if I drink two or three brandies, I’m far better able to write.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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Advertising – The Client

Two of my favorite quotes about advertising:

“Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol, which is the brand image.” David Ogilvy (O&M)

“I have always believed that writing advertisements is the second most profitable form of writing. The first, of course, is ransom notes…” Phil Dusenberry (BBDO)

Years ago when I was in marketing research, the CEO of a midsized company and a good friend asked me to conduct some focus groups on a new campaign his ad agency had developed. After doing the work, I came back with the recommendation that he proceed – the message was in line with the strategy and consumers liked the creative effort.

He kept challenging me on each and every positive insight I shared with him. Finally, in exasperation I asked my friend/client what is the problem. He looked at me and said, “Arthur, there is nothing you can tell me that will change how I feel. I hate the campaign.” “So why did you bother to hire me to test it,” I asked. “I was hoping consumers would hate it as well. Now I’ll just kill it on my own.”

Our debate continued. “What don’t you like about it?” “I just don’t like it,” was the reply. “Well why not give your agency some guidelines for what you’re looking for?”

“Listen” he said, “I’ll know good advertising when I see it.”

Oh, it’s good to be the CEO.

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It definitely is not the advertising

I found Megan’s article on Constellation Brands in yesterday’s issue of Wine and Spirits Daily to be particularly interesting.

Here’s an excerpt:

Constellation may be one of the world’s largest wine companies, but its spirits brands had a phenomenal year.  Total spirits organic net sales grew 19% for the year, led by a 38% gain for its star Svedka vodka.  Svedka also recently launched it’s first-ever television advertising campaign “which marks an exciting milestone and serves as another example of how Svedka is setting itself apart in its quest to bring future fun to vodka lovers everywhere.”

The quote is from Constellation Chief Rob Sands who, in my opinion, is among the best executives in the business. Smart, knowledgeable and effective. But, obviously not an advertising maven.

Maybe it’s just me that thinks the ad campaign is ridiculous. It features a well-endowed, sexy, female robot (fembot) supposedly symbolizing the brand’s future achievements. If the marketing folks are looking to be more than a price driven brand and want to add image — keep looking.

Oh, and check out the TV campaign. I’m the guy who was there when Seagram and the industry decided to end the voluntary ban on broadcast advertising. This ad makes me think we made a mistake.

Svedka is a great brand built on hard work and smart marketing…excellent imported Vodka with high quality at a very competitive price. I’ve even been known to buy a 1.75L every now and then.

But its growth is not a function of the advertising. Its growth continues in spite of it.

Maybe mainstream advertising is not as important for brand building as it once was.

Just sayin’…

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