James Hurman, Founder/Co-founder of Previously Unavailable, Tracksuit, Toothcrush and Storytech, introduces his new column for WARC that looks at effective advertising and its lessons.
I’m James Hurman, and this is an introduction to my new column for WARC, called Eff Bomb. It’s a column about advertising that’s, well, fucking effective. And what we can all learn from it.
The column’s also a thinly veiled ad for my online programme the Master of Advertising Effectiveness, where I bring together and teach all of the evidence based principles of how advertising works and how to make it work better.
All the stuff you know and love from WARC, the IPA, Ehrenberg Bass and other marketing effectiveness founts – but would like to understand in enough depth to be able to really apply it to the brands you work on.
The column and the Masters programme are both about the same thing. Helping us understand how the various principles of advertising effectiveness work together to make advertising work.
Identifying the gaps
What I’ve noticed, teaching ad effectiveness to companies around the world, is that most marketing and advertising people have absorbed bits and pieces of the literature, but have gaps in their understanding that mean the bits and pieces they’re getting right are undermined by other stuff they’re getting way wrong.
I found one massive, world-famous company making ‘long-term brand-building’ campaigns that Binet & Field would be proud of – poignant emotional stories, targeted broadly – and then running them for only six weeks. They’d understood the creative bit, then been looking at their phones during the ‘effects compound over time as the work runs for 6 months to 3 years’ bit.
There are the companies that’ve gorged on the logic of How Brands Grow, gone on a wild binge of shoving their distinctive assets under the noses of as many people as possible, completely forgotten about the magic of emotion and creativity, and found themselves with a kind of soulless salience and stagnating growth.
Or brands who got the memo on the awesome commercial power of creativity, then applied it to their shortest-term, smallest budget campaigns in the false hope it’d make up for a lack of appropriate spend.
Baking a cake
The awesome truth is that we now have a pretty complete body of evidence of how advertising works to build brands and businesses. When we put it all together, it’s awesomely powerful. But when we just deploy bits of it, it’s like a cake made with only some of the ingredients.
Cake tastes awful if you only use flour and butter. Or if you mistakenly use salt instead of sugar. You need all the right ingredients, working together. Just like you can’t build a truly effective advertising strategy by just building mental availability, or just creating emotional connection, or just getting the budget right. You need to understand all of the constituent factors of effectiveness, and you need to get them all working together.
So that’s what the Master of Advertising Effectiveness is about. Check it out at mae.academy
And it’s what this column is about too.
I’ll take apart recent effectiveness award winners and show how they’ve put the principles of effectiveness together to create significant brand and business growth.
Sometimes they’ll have combined a couple of the principles. But the real Eff Bombs are those that have gotten everything right all at once.
I kick off Issue #1 next week with ‘There’s a glass & a half in everyone’ from Cadbury UK and VCCP London – winner of the IPA Effectiveness Awards Grand Prix and a total Eff Bomb.