Any input, anyone? Opinions, experiences, research?
The other day when I wrote the post about Johnnie Walker I completely forgot something that was pretty big on the net a couple of months ago when “The Walk” was released, namely this:
Image: Kilmarnock Standard (but why does everyone look so happy?)
Yes, you remember it correctly: Diageo, the owners of Johnnie Walker, accounced they will be closing down the historic Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock. Bad business, bad timing or bad luck? Or just another case of the marketing department leading a life of their own, ignorant of the connected world we all live in now where it’s getting increasingly harder to play make-believe and hope no-one notices?
(Thanks for reminding me, Peter!)
There’s walking and there’s talking. Robert Carlyle is doing the walking and there’s not much you can say about it except that he does it brilliantly.
Then there’s the talking going around in creative circles that “The Walk” is da shit. The best film of the year. A clear Cannes winner. Get-down-on-your-knees-and-worship material.
First of all, isn’t it just plain old celebrity endorsement, no matter how well made? Robert Carlyle is as cool as they come and he’s the reason the film is watchable. Would it have been as heralded had it starred any old Scotsman? I doubt it.
Secondly, I don’t get the whole five-and-a-half minute thing. I was under the impression it was made for earned media, i.e. the net, for people to pass around. But then BBH pulls it from YouTube “due to a copyright claim”…? Surely they must know that kind of behavior is pointless since once it’s out, it’s out? And wasn’t the whole idea with the film that people should, umm, watch it? Very confusing.
Maybe it’s a good ad. Maybe it will get a few clueless people to jump on the Johnnie Walker wagon. But is it new? State of the art? Exciting? Interesting to anyone outside the ad industry? I love BBH; they’ve always been one of my top three favorite agencies. But this time around I have to agree with Miko:
“It is lovely. It is boring. Kind of like a long walk in the country.”
The client needs to be brave.
They have to take a chance. They have to risk it. The have to be daring. They have to be prepared to go out on a limb.
Christ. I don’t know why we keep obsessing with clients having to be brave. Ok, I admit I used to say it and think it myself a long time ago but since then I’ve grown older. Or wiser.
Demanding, arguing or even expecting that a client should be brave is more often than not just a bad excuse either for a bad idea to begin with or for bad salesmanship. And when I say salesmanship I mean it in the most revering sense of the word, i.e. the ability to explain to a client why the proposed solution will add value to his or her business.
But most of all it’s a complete lack of empathy. Which is sort of disturbing in a tragi-comical way since empathy is supposed to be our forte; one of the things our clients pay us for is that we claim to understand better than they do what the target group thinks, feels and does and, hence, how the communication should be planned and executed.
Well, when we’re selling ideas the client is the target. And we behave like spoilt children.
Because, as we all know when we spend more than five seconds thinking about it, there are some pretty compelling reasons most clients are not, will not and perhaps should not be brave:
- They aren’t paid to be brave. They’re paid to deliver results.
- Most organizations don’t reward being brave or, in a more appropriate way of putting it, risk-taking.
- Being brave is not in human nature. Avoiding risk is.
So before reverting to the “argument” that a client should buy our whacky, revolutionary, bad-ass idea out of sheer bravery, maybe we should take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves why we don’t make a habit out of proposing ideas we’ve never thought of before. Or why we don’t quit our day job and write that novel we’re dreaming of. Or open that Cat-Stuff-O-Rama store. Or get a Mohawk. Why we aren’t more “brave” ourselves.
We need to start seeing the bigger picture and imagine what it would be like to be in our client’s shoes. And if it were our money. And our careers on the line.
Because, at the end of the day, most people are only human.
Disclaimer: This blog post was written by someone in a dark state of mind. Sorry.
Photo by cmh0150
“You know, there really is no such thing as bad publicity,” says Keller. “People like to say it, but you have to believe it, because it really comes down to the fact that [if you want] to generate energy around something, [it] can’t be harnessed for a positive outcome. Unfortunately it’s not the nature of culture to generate a lot of excitement and energy around really positive things. But our goal is to be positive, it’s not to be cynical…. We know that we have to generate a conversation and to have a conversation there has to be two sides. If you’re not willing to have the negative side, then you’re not willing to have a conversation, and if you’re not willing to [do that], you’re not going to create anything.”