How can marketers and agencies better align their activities with commercial outcomes?
Gurdeep Puri, Founding Partner, The Effectiveness Partnership
Half a lifetime ago, I took part in the first ever IPA Senior Advertising Programme, taught by the late Peter Doyle. Doyle was a cynical, smart, chain-smoking Liverpudlian business school professor who goaded us ad agency rising stars with our ignorance of business and finance, our failure to read books, our belief in advertising as a unique and self-contained universe. We gave as good as we got, but after eight exhausting, 16-hour days, I emerged with a fundamentally new perspective, which has never quite left me: we should never lose sight of the idea that all advertising begins and ends in its wider business context.
What examples are there of a brand leader in a category successfully defending itself against a major branded competitive launch?
Brand manager, food company
What examples? How about PG Tips, Nike, Whiskas, O2, Hellmann's, Heinz Ketchup, Nescafe, Coca-Cola... Actually I find it harder, off the top of my head, to think of examples of brand leaders who failed to defend themselves successfully. But this is like the dog that didn't bark in the night. We don't pay enough attention to the extreme stability of strongly branded markets – by which I am meaning categories where competitors are mainly differentiated by branding and marketing tactics, rather than by fundamental changes in product technology. In such categories, there's either an established brand leader, or two or more brands which stay locked in a fight for leadership, and this is unlikely to change over long periods of time. It's really rather extraordinary that a brand such as Brooke Bond PG Tips has maintained brand leadership, indeed a volume share within the limits of a very few percentage points, over 40 years or so, when you consider how much the world has changed during that time. There's no a priori reason to expect this, and, repeatedly, when I've tested this assumption with students who don't know the facts, they estimate vastly more volatility.
Where, oh where has the populist advertising idea gone? Those stories that charmed, or tugged hearts, or raised chuckles, and justified the term 'campaign'?
Seamus O'Farrell, director of communications, The Prostate Cancer Charity
Is it just nostalgia for a golden age that makes us suppose there were more Honey Monsters, PG Chimps, Hamlet Cigars, and Humphreys Abouts back in the 1970s and 1980s than there are today? It would be hard to prove, but you might well be right, and there's one bit of strongly suggestive evidence: agreement with a TGI statement, 'The ads are often better than the programmes', peaked in 1991 and has steadily tanked ever since. And if that's true, it's a good question - why has it happened?
Unilever recently announced that it wants 'more magic and less logic' in its advertising. What are its chances of achieving more effective campaigns through this programme?
Nigel Beard, former global account director on Unilever accounts
At the beginning of November, Unilever's marketing chiefs made a high-profile announcement of a new ten-year plan to improve the creativity of their advertising. They wanted, they said, 'more magic and less logic', and to give marketers 'the right to failure'. Most commentators seemed to take this positively. I worked on a global Unilever brand between 2000 and 2005, and I've talked with many people from Unilever agencies since then, so I know that there will be widespread sympathy for Unilever's intentions in this. As I know only what little has been quoted in the trade press, it would be presumptuous of me to predict how far this initiative will succeed. But I do have some thoughts about the choice of language that is being used, and based on that I wonder how far Unilever will achieve the deep cultural change here that I suspect it needs to fulfil its real potential.
Q Why the current obsession with social media? Hasn’t media always been social?
Patrick Collister, The Joined Up Company
A OK, I'm going to make a confession: Facebook is one of my guilty pleasures. Through Facebook I learn that: somebody's shower is leaking; kids and dogs are dressed up for Hallowe'en (the Ghaddafi costume seems like a topical touch); someone is eating spare ribs in Massachusetts; people are checking in at airports; someone's off to watch TV; someone's cat is looking cross; my friends in Tallinn are having another long dialogue in Estonian; someone has just been kissed by the postman... all human life is here. And mixed in with all this are links, to pop videos, to lectures, to newspaper articles, to cartoons, ads, blogs, albums of photographs. I could try to compare all this to things we used to do before, but it does seem to me there's something genuinely new here, and it's still too early to know quite what it's significance will be.
What I don't see yet is quite why this is hugely interesting or important for brands or advertising. Apart from the fact that any medium with over 500 million users can sell a lot of advertising space. I looked at my Facebook page today for two things. What brand conversations are going on? And what are the advertisers doing with it?