Saturday, December 02, 2006

Advertising's Present

Go ahead: Accuse me of inconsistency. In an earlier post, I urged you to “think outside the bottle.” I was talking about new bottle shapes specifically. Then, in “Rob’s Perrier” and “Ambitious Brew” (also below), you heard that there are quite a lot of new ideas that aren’t really new, just re-discovered or re-invented.

No matter how often you have been told to think outside the box, I stress (after three decades as a creative) that there’s a hell of a lot inside the box.

In fact, our box is positively stuffed with great ideas ‘cause a huge number of creative people have been stuffing the damn thing for years and years – and gift-wrapped it for you.

Look: every year, colleagues and clients have urged me to read the latest book about the “new marketing,” a long line of them from Marketing Warfare to Crossing the Chasm to The Tipping Point. Damned if I didn’t start way back with Antony Jay’s books, Management & Machiavelli (1968) and Corporation Man (1971). I still think Corporation Man is one of the best books ever written about corporate life.

I have to agree with Steve Lance and Jeff Woll in The Little Blue Book of Advertising, their new work:

First, there’s no such thing at “new marketing.” There are new ways to reach your target audience; there may be new media alternatives and new ways to cut through the clutter; but all consumers of every age are still motivated by the same things that motivated consumers since the first caveman coveted his neighbor’s cudgel: needs, status, a belief that the product will improve the perceived quality of their lives, or just an unexplained “I gotta have that” impulsive action.”

They point out there are four basic questions you can ask, if you’d just step back and think about your creative or marketing challenge. “What are we doing?” “How are we doing it?” “Why are we doing it?” and “How do we know if it’s working.”

The answers to these foundation questions are already inside the box: hundreds or even thousands of creative ideas, concepts, promotions and programs that have been thought up and produced since small-type ads for fresh fish appeared in Colonial American newspapers.

Think of what’s inside the box as Advertising’s evergreen present to you – and your career’s future.

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