Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Neinsteins Theory of Advertivity

One thing that always puzzles me is why planners (and designers and creatives as far as I know) always obsess about theories and theoretical charts. Is it a good thing or are we losing track of the bigger picture?

Recently our blogosphere has seen debates on big ideas vs small ideas, prog vs punk ads and so forth. But is it not the case that there is no right answer?

I like electronica, but I know not to play it at a Slayer gig. I like heavy metal, but I know not to play it at a wedding. Why is it that we often try to fit one type of music to every event, surely the best type of solution is the one that is most relevant to the brief and client?

Its also the case that even when a theory is right, it doesnt always stay that way. Einstein's theory of relativity has been effectively challenged on many occassions. Just because Bernbach and Lever were right back in the 50's and 60's doesnt mean they are 100% right now, but it also doesnt make them wrong.

So.

Do we theorise too much? Or are we justified to do so providing we always stay true to the needs of brands and clients? Or am I wrong too?

26 comments:

Stan Lee said...

To be honest Rob, I think this theorising is primarily done by the planning community.

You'd have to admit that planners love things like flow charts and research etc.

As for us creatives, well we love ads 'n ideas.

Nice title by the way...Stan

lauren said...

wow! is this the question of the moment or what!?
see under brand handling by russell davies and back to life reality by fredrik sarnblad..

Rob said...

Mainly yes, though I have seen lots of similar things done by designers.

I like nice charts AND ads and ideas; shouldnt everyone in the ad industry?

Darn it Lauren, you mean my lunch break rant has already been done and I missed it?

Oh and thanks Stan, I thought it wasnt a bad title!

Will said...

Just.........why?

Everyone loves to think, and some people love to think out loud or on t'nternet.

Planners love to do all three. Creatives, usually the middle one. ;)

Rob said...

Of course. I'm not saying we shouldnt theorise or think, but sometimes it can feel like many spend more time trying to fit a theory to a case than actually looking at what that case needs.

I should have marked this with an Adliterate style 'intentionally controversial to provoke debate' marker!

Will said...

But I *want* the next COI advert to have some reference to Steampunk..

Sigh. ;)

np said...

For gods sake, creatives don't own ideas, but too many individuals dress up bad thinking with sodding charts - and call it an idea.
You do need some sort of framework and thinking, but clinging to some theory, or model, just means you've lest chance of doing something original.
Strategy should have an idea behind it.
Right, time to read what Marcus has been saying about Cake (the agency not the food)

beeker said...

i don't love flowcharts or research stan. i mean they're *alright*. sometimes.

the more i see it going on first hand, the more i think it's half justifying what we do with scientific looking things on pages. and it's half trying to represent what we do so that it doesn't just seem like we're pulling strategy out of our arses. maybe.

then again, most blog thoughts are pure theorising, no?

lauren said...

uh, sorry rob - yes. and i don't wanna sound mean, but i'm seeing the irony in this subject being discussed again, and again, and again! lol!

not that it's not worth discussing, but aren't we all just doing the same thing we're bitching about - theorising the fuck out of an idea?

Rob Mortimer said...

Possibly yes, though I appear to have missed the previous discussions on the subject!

Is "the right solution for the right client" a theory? Or is it just common sense?

Billy Whizz said...

We can think a little, we can think a lot, but at some point we've got to actually do something or its all pointless bollox.
Sounds like the guys at your future conference thing do too much of the former and too little of the latter.
You should get Rob or George there, they'd shake it up.

Rob said...

I'm going to suggest that to Alex (founder of FMS).

Would be a great way to stir things up. Maybe get him on a panel with someone he cant stand!

Rob @ Cynic said...

Well done Billy ... not only for posting, but for having a fair comment.

And if you really want me with someone I can't stand - I can supply a list of possible candidates - or you can just shove me next to Kevin Roberts, not because I hate him, I just think he has no right to talk about the future when 96.68% of all he says is based on the past.

And Rob, great call on Lever etc philosophies of the 50's being great then - but not neccesarilly right for today. I am amazed how many marketers use old ideals for the new era. Sure, not everything is wrong - infact much still has some relevance, especially interms like distribution - but jesus, they act like the internet and cynicism hasn't happened yet.

The fools.

Rob said...

It would be fun... Rob C vs Kevin R!

Like I say, it doesnt Lever was wrong. 50% of the budget probably is still wasted, but is the same 50%? Probably not. Is it for the same reasons? Probably not.

Whereas then it had more reference to demographics, now its more likely to be down to media choice and campaign content and engagement.

etc.

As for KR, its always dangerous to judge the future based on the past. Someone at FMS rightly referenced Ford's quote "If Id asked people what they wanted they would have said a faster horse..."

He however IS still (mostly) right...i think! ;)

Rob (again) said...

Apologies for my awful typing.

Rob @ Cynic said...

Yes ... your typing is very poor today ... you need rest/coffee/better keyboard.

As for the Henry Ford quote - I had a massive rant against Gareth on this ages ago.

Sure if Henry Ford just asked consumers that question, he would have got an answer based on their 'frame-of-reference' - but if he looked at the meaning behind the words, he'd understand the desire for faster transportation was there and he could provisionally validate it by saying ...

"So if I can create a safe form of transportation that gets you from point A to point B quicker than conventional means, would you be interested?"

... and voila, the business potential would have been acknowledged.

I hate how people say the consumer don't know stuff ... they do, it's just that we [planners/researchers] have to have the ability to understand the meaning behind their words so that we can grasp the real need they want answered.

Too much stuff is taken on face value and given we live lives of delusion, seclusion or protection, it is somewhat misguided and ridiculous to follow this practice - ESPECIALLY IN FOCUS GROUPS.

God, don't get me started on that ...

Rob said...

Definitely.

Which is often the line between visionary and researcher; those who understand needs and desires beneath results.

That is always the danger in literal research. Do you prefer A or B doesnt account for whether they like either, or whether they would all fawn over C.

Marcus Brown said...

you can have someone’s eye out with a brand pyramid you know.

rob @ Cynic said...

I once had a researcher tell me ALL ASIANS are rational beings and don't respond to emotion.

In the wrong hands, research is a business killer!

I won't tell you how I reacted to that comment, but I bet you can guess, ha!

Rob said...

It is deadly in the wrong hands, which sadly is often those who conduct it...

I can imagine.

Had someone said that to me you would have seen fury and bemusement of a level that would make Andy cry happy tears.

fredrik sarnblad said...

Yes, we absolutely theorise too much...often at the expense of reality, unfortunately. And unless we actually do stuff, as Bill points out, it's all pointless.

Your point about research Rob is also very true. I've been on a mission against mindless research for a long time. Please join me!

Marcus' comment is bloody genius. It says it all.

Rob said...

Indeed it was, and indeed I will be happy to join the campaign against bad research!

np said...

Brand Onions make my eyes sting.

Rob Mortimer said...

Brands and eyes eh?

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