Out and about

2016 was full of shocks for the pollsters and indeed, many bright young things working in advertising and marketing. How could we have got things so wrong? What? The collected opinions of my Facebook friends don’t constitute what the Great British Public is thinking? I thought that if I ‘de-friended’ a few of those people whose views I didn’t like, then they’d disappear into a puff of ether and I’d never have to be troubled by them again.

I blogged about the return of the Untrendy here and so far, 2017 has been full of references to bubbles, echo chambers and the like in everything from song lyrics through to advertisements (Heineken springs to mind) so I suppose at least there’s awareness now that that the world is full of different views, not all of which may be palatable to us personally.

As a marketer, there’s no way you can guarantee that your brand will be desired and bought only by people whose demographics appeal to you, or whose worldview co-incides with your own. So what can you do, to find out how other people tick? At the risk of sounding obvious, you have to go out and meet them, observe them, talk with them, listen to them. And not through the filter of the screen. The agency Ogilvy and Mather announced their intention, last year, of sending their planners out and about around the country, under the banner ‘Get Out There.’

My first reaction as an old fogey in this world was a wry smile and something of a sense of bemusement. Surely this is what planners at ad agencies do? It appears not. Kevin Chesters, the Chief Strategy Officer at Ogilvy in London is quoted as saying that only 2% of creative briefs are informed by original first-hand research.

When on earth did we lose touch so badly?

Once I’d gulped and realised just how dire things had got, I had a look at the Get Out There blog.  There are clips and articles about Oldies in Eastbourne, the question of Brexit in Boston, Christianity in Hereford and so on. Yes, you could pick holes in stuff like the journalistic approach (picking on towns that are ‘extreme’ in one sense or another and packaging it all up with video clips and snappy headlines) but that’s the way of the world these days. I trust that there’s some good substance and insight behind the public exterior and in the end, at least they are doing something rather than debating and pontificating.

I notice the Marketing Society is re-naming its ‘Brand of the Year’ ‘BRAVE Brand of the Year’ to reward risk-taking. I’m looking forward to seeing a brand marketing to appeal to people out of the hipster London bubble.

Originally Posted on http://secretagencyblog.blogspot.com/


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