Advertising seeks 'righter' answers

27 October 2014

LONDON: Advertising is rich in theories but none can claim to be the sole font of wisdom in a complex world, according to Guy Murphy of JWT.

The agency network's worldwide planning director told a gathering held to celebrate 50 years of Admap – the anniversary issue of which explores the future of brand communications – that this confusion was nothing new, as he reminisced about acronymic ideas such as AIDA and DAGMAR.

"There's never going to be a right answer," he concluded, "just answers that have a greater degree of rightness about them than others."

And despite the range of ideas about advertising and communications, he had noted a creeping anti-intellectualism in the industry, as people started to regard action as more important than thinking, to believe that "thinking holds things up, thinking makes things slow".

That resulted in such nonsensical statements as "thinking just is acting" or "strategy just is doing".

"It's critical that in our industry we give ourselves the space and the encouragement to think," he asserted, "and have that notion of constant inquiry to be able to get to righter answers to be able to give our clients the value that they're paying for."

That was, he argued, why Admap was so valuable – it acted as "a portal for our thought".

Earlier he had outlined six current strands of thinking about advertising (a video of the presentation is available here), ranging from storytelling content to experimental, with his own take on each.

The latter was part of the anti-intellectualism he had observed – don't theorise, just do – but it was also part of the language of the world of technology and Silicon Valley: fail fast, fail faster.

Utility, he noted, frequently contained an element of double bluff from brands that boasted about spending money on the product and not on advertising. "The marketing that they're doing, to say that they're not doing any marketing, is the marketing that they say they're not doing."

Action for good was "CSR on speed", personalisation was "CRM on crack cocaine", programmatic was the spectre of communications being decided by an algorithm, while "there's not a single similarity between storytelling and our content at all".

In a completely unscientific poll of those present at the event, utility emerged as the preferred strategy for the future.

Data sourced from Warc