Thursday, 3 October 2013

Don't be more dog: how to outthink the competition in advertising

89% of advertising goes unnoticed or is not remembered, according to advertising guru Dave Trott, of The Gate London and formerly of Gold Greenlees Trott.

"Everyone presumes their advert will be noticed, just because they've made it. But 89% of ads don't have impact. They're invisible, like wallpaper," said Dave.  

Exposed to 1,000 ads a day

It's no wonder we don't notice or remember ads when we're exposed to around 1,000 advertising messages a day, as we move from home to workplace and back home to the tele.

So how can you make sure your messages stand out in a competitive world?

The answer, said Dave, in his lecture at the London School of Economics, is predatory thinking - outthinking the competition, doing different so you have an impact.

Don't be more dog

But there's a conundrum. An advertising agency's clients often want to copy what other brands are doing - they often don't like radically different ideas.

"After Be more dog (current TV ad from O2), I expect we'll see Be more giraffe or Be more fruitfly," joked Dave.
"Creative people have a fear of the obvious and they're selling to clients who love the obvious. The client wants safety."

But taking an entirely new approach is the only way to get society's opinion formers to talk about you to the rest of society - opinion followers.

"Opinion formers always need fresh stuff to talk about,"said Dave.

Opinion followers and opinion formers come from psychographics, which has taken over from old-fashioned demographics (ABC1s etc).

Creative problem solving

Dave's philosophy is to look at a challenge you can't solve and 'get upstream of it', changing it into a challenge you can solve.

Take the government's fire safety campaigns in the decades when chip-pan fires were a regular occurrence. Dave said:
"For years there were TV ads showing you how bad it is to have a fire. Ad after ad. But our job wasn't to stop people having fires, it was to stop fire station callouts.
"So we showed how to tackle a chip-pan fire. Turn the gas off, wet a tea towel and put it over the pan. And then walk away and leave it to cool down. Call-outs went down dramatically." 

Please wear out your tyres

Or take the origin of the Michelin travel guides and Michelin star rating system for restaurants.

"Michelin, the tyre maker, brought out guides to show people places they could visit - places they could drive to in their cars. It was about finding a way of getting people to wear out their tyres," said Dave.

You can listen to a podcast of Dave's LSE lecture. Read more on or see Dave's book Predatory thinking: a masterclass in outthinking the competition

By Suzanne Amos, freelance content editor

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