The Warc Blog

Advertising: Science or art?

Posted by: Joseph Clift, Product Manager, Warc

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Is advertising success achieved through incremental research, careful checking of data and sound planning – or is it more to do with the creative "eureka moment"? This "science vs art" question has troubled advertising's biggest brains for decades. Remember that famous Bill Bernbach quote? "Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art."

The industry's latest attempt at settling the matter came with a lively debate at the Edinburgh International Marketing Festival earlier this week. Arguing for the scientists were O&M's global effectiveness director Tim Broadbent and Heineken's Tom Gill; for the artists, Marketing Society CEO Hugh Burkitt and The Leith Agency's Gerry Farrell. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the final vote the motion – "This house believes advertising should be more about science and less about art" – was defeated fairly comfortably.

23 August 2012, 09:49
Publishing's stages of digital grief

Posted by: Andrew Curry, Director, The Futures Company

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My colleague Andy Stubbings went to hear Taschen Books' Julius Wiedemann talking about publishing's rocky road to a digital future recently, and it turns out that the industry has something to learn from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's five-stage model of grief: (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance).

As he writes, "It wasn't exactly clear from the talk where publishing is on the DABDA journey (inevitably, the projector was malfunctioning), but it appears we have gone past Denial ("Of course the traditional newspaper model is viable!") through Anger ("How dare people find information for free that they used to have to pay for!"), and is now somewhere into Bargaining ("OK, you can read all our magazines as much as you want online, but only by subscribing to our 'digital newstand' via your iPad").

We discussed these transitions in our Technology 2020 report (which has been excellently summarised by our sister company Digit). Digital technology is following the same foreseeable 50-70 year cycle that other big technology developments have gone through since the Industrial Revolution. A period of 20-35 years of technological innovation without radical application – "old things in new ways", followed by a second period of major social and economic change as the technology is applied to do "new things in new ways" (new applications, new behaviours, new organisations etc). There is necessarily a period of fragmentation, messiness and even "bargaining" as industries transition from the first phase to the second.

It always takes years to bridge this gap, and publishing will be no different. It's not just a question of publishing markets taking time to reach an new equilibrium where both buyers and sellers benefit, or the development of new business models to let this happen. It's not just about infrastructure, and the time that will take for new standards, new distribution mechanisms and new systems to be put in place. With the introduction of every great technology, whether it is digital technology supplanting print, or cars replacing the horse, the last thing to change is usually people's values and assumptions about how we do things, which are a legacy from the technologies that preceded it. With technological disruption, as with grief, the hardest part is letting go".

The full post by Andy Stubbings is on The Futures Company's blog.

10 August 2012, 14:45
Ambush marketing: An Olympic competition. And Nike goes for gold

Posted by: Robert Passikoff, President, Brand Keys, Inc

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Would you be surprised to hear that children lining the athletes parade route through Olympic Park in London were advised to wear "comfortable, unbranded or adidas shoes"? A bit biased, you say? Okay, lots of sporting events are used to promote brands. The Olympics, perhaps, more than most. But brand advisories?

So no surprise that the publicly funded Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is hard at work to ensure that brands that are not "official sponsors" of the games do not gain financially – or otherwise – by an association with the games. And the ODA is ready for some imaginative ambush marketing forays. The regulations allow them to police areas up to 200 meters around a venue. Oh and skies above these venues too. Talk about "air rights"! And any water, like the sailing events at Weymouth.

07 August 2012, 15:23
Learning to win from British Cycling

Posted by: Andrew Curry, Director, The Futures Company

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Bradley Wiggins keeps on winning – in a way never seen before by a British cyclist. And for those of us who have been following cycling for years, it's still a surprise. But it reminds us that winning is a team business.

When British Cycling's Performance Director Dave Brailsford launched the Sky road racing team in 2009 and announced that it would produce a British winner of the Tour de France within five years, most long-standing cycling fans were disbelieving. For all of Brailsford's success in track cycling, le Tour was a very different proposition.

02 August 2012, 10:04
New on Warc: Managing digital on a global scale

Posted by: James Aitchison, Director, Warc

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Recent highlights on include global brand owners' use of social and digital media, the hunt for growth in developing markets and the latest insights in our new trends section. We also look ahead to some upcoming conferences on media, market and advertising research..

To receive content updates like this by monthly email, visit: Your Warc > Email Alerts.

01 August 2012, 17:28

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