Logic or magic…how does the work work?

Posted on February 18, 2009



All of us harbour a theory about how advertising works because when asked, everyone has an opinion on what works and what doesn’t. But we’re not always aware what that theory really is and how it found its way into our heads. More often than not it is predicated on the assumption that people’s behaviour is rational and largely driven by reason – a rather self-comforting thought. Hence, we spend most of our strategic/creative agency conversations discussing ‘message’ – what’s easy to reason around.

Now, I’m not saying we should stop doing that or that this conversation is obsolete. Not at all.  But I firmly believe it attracts a disproportionate amount of attention from both brand owners and agencies. Or rather, it draws attention away from the strategic question about what the audience outtake ought to be in a much wider sense than a verbal message. Most of planning processes and tools in the agency world today are constructed with the underlying assumption that their job is to help brands implant messages into the conscious minds of people. And in a majority of cases, this turns out to be verbal messages. A few personality attributes may also be injected as “wrapping paper” for the “core message”, often as an afterthought. This, I believe, is stifling Viagra-potent lateral ideas that can literally transform businesses.

This Audi film was developed from the insight that compact SUV-inspired cars are often perceived to be boxy, which isn’t the case at all with the streamlined Q5. While this barrier is being addressed head on in the creative with the message “unboxing the box”, you decide whether the effectiveness of this spot hinges on the rational,  conscious understanding of this message or should rather be attributed to the emotion this ad makes you associate with the Q5.

Think about it.

In their article “50 years using the wrong model of TV advertising” Robert Heath and Paul Feldwick say the following: “Clients and agencies must take on board that advertising can be effective without “message”, “proposition”, or “benefits”, and recognize that attempts to impose these may reduce not increase effectiveness.” Does this scare you? Good. Find out more about why they say what they say

–    Exploding the Message Myth
–    50 Years Using the Wrong Model of TV Advertising.

Posted in: Planning-related