a friendly poke at CMOs over at Forbes

I t’s creativity award times and the best advertising (although the advertising part was dropped from the award description this year – thank you) is being scrutinized down in Cannes. There are many different points of views on creativity but I think there’s only two sides and one is wrong. If awards is the end you’re aiming for – you’re way off. If you view it as a good gauging tool for the business effects you tried to achieve – no worries.

Here’s a short piece I wrote for the Forbes CMO network the other day, on the subject but not for Cannes reasons.

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with an at-the-time hopefully future client. We had shared some early thoughts on how to help their brand grab a substantial share of the very competitive market they are in. One representative said we had to forgive him for being very skeptical of an industry that “only wants to win awards.” He didn’t express this in a disrespectful way leaving me the chance to respond, and there is a very good response indeed.

We know that advertising works. But we also know a great deal more about what type of advertising works and why. Many advertising greats, often equipped with acute observational skills coupled with a large dose of empathy, always knew this. Obviously it would only pass as ‘being pretty sure’, whereas now we know that creativity really matters in business.

No one buys an ad. I should hope. You invest in better business results and advertising is a means to that end. It drives short- and long-term results. The two are tightly linked, and one might argue there’s not one without the other. We know increasingly more about why this is, thanks to an increasing amount of research on advertising effectiveness. CMOs, agencies – marketeers in general – should keep a keen eye on this, because otherwise we’ll never know if all we bought was an ad.

This is very well described and exemplified in ‘The link between creativity and effectiveness’, published by the IPA in 2010 (you can find the report here). In fact creatively rewarded campaigns are on average 11 times more effective than less creative campaigns.

Pretty good news for anyone responsible for investing in better business results. And pretty interesting to then look at one’s own advertising, and analyze and reflect.

So far so good. But based on my subjective experience, I find it a bit strange that you meet so few CMOs, heads of marketing or advertising, who actually know about these things. Especially in a B2B context, which isn’t as different from consumer as many people would have you think.

Why is this?

Shouldn’t this be as prioritised in clients’ organisations as it is in agencies?

And on that subject I read another Forbes piece on client’s views on awards, and it doesn’t exactly help me calm down. I mean, what can you say about the following reasoning by a CMO?

While the benefits for the agency from winning awards, what’s in it for the client? I was shocked recently when the CMO of a top, nationally recognized company, one that has won many awards over the years, told me that he believed that he is entitled to pay his agency a lower fee because the agency benefits financially from his award-winning account by picking up other accounts.

My marketer friend wondered why the agency could be leveraging the awards to win new business, while the client gets no financial benefit from those awards.

Being entitled to pay the agency less is another matter and I don’t think I’d be able to behave had I been there. But the second part about not getting any financial benefit is equally upsetting. Because like I wrote, it shows how very little some of these people know about the stuff they should know a great deal about.

Obviously it isn’t a clear cut case. Not all award winners have proven very effective and there’s a lot of bullshit “hey look how cool things we dream up” examples that understandably adds to some skeptics’ opinions on creative awards. But damnit we have to arrive at some basic level, general knowledge around creativity and business effects in the suit world soon. It’s upsetting if not even ridiculous.

being buyable takes mental and physical availability


Found at adverblog

This is an absolut brilliant take on the physical availability aspect, and it’s overall genius problem solving. And, knock on wood, one of the few examples of great use of QR codes, as more often than not they just constitute a higher barrier to entry (bit.ly/reveal is much better and memorable, and device independent, than a QR code that you leave behind when the bus comes…). It’s a school book example and highlights the advertising ideas vs. marketing ideas chapter, and the importance of mastering and understanding technology (and of course usage and penetration of it, which in this case is quite high given it’s South Korea) and how it can be used based on current behaviours. Mind-blowingly great I say. And it ends up being physical digital physical availability which is twisted concept.

the revolution that wasn’t a revolution

A man in a large crowd stares into the camera. His eyes are wide open. If you didn’t know what was happening, you’d have a hard time telling if he had a stare of anger, victory or happiness. It was a mix of all three. He was in the start of a revolution.

There was a panel discussion at FutureEverything in Manchester some time back, about digital and the future. Ela Kagel, a curator focusing on free culture and the open web, had a talk about value transfer, crowd funding and the challenge of future revenue models for artists and cultural workers. It’s a very interesting subject, and indeed her project called Free Culture Incubator is too.

What I find quite interesting with this is that arts grants and other official cultural support functions have been about the process of creating art. Support for the doing, so that artists can then sell the final product. And although many artists, who have always struggled, may find bootlegging and copying a major problem and maybe even a spit in the face, they now have so many new ways of getting support for the process and the actual doing from a much larger community. A visionary idea or project like Molly Crabapple’s Week In Hell can get $17,000 from supporters that don’t know what’s going to come out at the end. We don’t just buy the final art, we buy into a thought, idea, culture or movement. Below is a graph of the different types of projects that get funding from Kickstarter.

“Are we prepared for after the revolution?”

That was the key question that made me squirm in my seat up in Manchester. “Are we prepared for after the revolution?” Well that makes no sense at all, which, seen as I can’t shut up, proclaimed loudly. I got a quiet stare back. The fact of the matter is that only if you’ve been asleep for the last 20 years can you wake up after a revolution. What we’ve been in for quite some time now (quite being the key part) is an evolution and not a revolution. An evolution that many have handled brilliantly and others not so brilliantly. But to blame it on being a victim of a revolution is crazy. Revolutions explode. Those prepared for this revolution are those who saw it as, and treated it as, an evolution early on. Those interested in, or at least realizing, the change. So the question has the answer already. For those who see it as a revolution; no, you’re not prepared.

Why is it important to distinguish a revolution from an evolution? Because it better helps corporations, organisations and brands making sense of it all. That it’s not making sense of something new, but continuously making sense of ongoing change. It might be about an implementation. Only not a solution, but rather a mindset or approach. The quicker they come to terms with the fact that never again will it move so slowly, the better. It’s not a change. It’s change.

But still, wise words from a man who wrote poetry from his thoughts about revolutions. Revolutions will not be televised because the actual revolution has already happened in the hearts and minds of revolutionaries. That cannot be televised. Revolutions, he said, happen within. Only the effects can be viewed and broadcast, and here’s how it looks.


Romanian revolutionaries taking over mass media, a good sign of a revolution.

an open brief to Nokrosoft developers

“find that next big thing that blows away Apple, Android, and everything we’re doing with Microsoft right now and makes it irrelevant—all of it. So go for it, without having to worry about saving Nokia’s rear end in the next 12 months. I’ve taken off the handcuffs.”
– Stephen Elop to developers

Pretty good article in BusinessWeek about the Elop goes to Nokia business. How’s the above for an open brief… Still don’t know what to think about the Microsoft/Nokia future though.

indexing my life and augmenting my memory – scary thought

-Android App Indexes Your Life & Augments Your Memory

That’s a headline in a Mashable post this morning. I think it sounds interesting and have a read. But I can’t help but think about how this would sound to someone not having gone through the evolution we’ve seen over the last 10 or so years. It would scare the shit out of someone in 1980. Not only a couple of seldom used words, but they will also mess with not only my life but my memory!

“We are helping people remember their lives,” Dexetra co-founder Binil Antony explains.

I wonder though. Isn’t living life three things really? Doing it now, remembering past-living and thinking a bit about possible future living? That’s how I see it. If you plan too much ahead or keep thinking about how good it was before, someone will tell you you have to live now, here and now or live in the moment. So an app that helps me remember life, you could argue, is taking away a part of life. Or actually, perhaps it is just augmenting it.

beating competitors in it or beating competitors to it

There are a lot of rumours surrounding Nintendo’s next home console. Is the company’s biggest challenge at the moment to come up with something completely different from its competitors?

I think when you talk about competing against others, the problem is that you refer to something that’s been done already and try to beat it. Rather than looking at what other companies are doing, the focus at Nintendo is on uniqueness. Providing new means of entertainment is the important thing.

– Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo
Article in from The Guardian