If a brand wants results that it’s never seen before, it needs to do something that it’s never done before. Exploring new avenues might scare the client, but a good idea can take a brand somewhere it’s never been, and gives you a better shot at doing some truly amazing work.
These days there are two kinds of agencies: the ones that make advertising and the ones that make communication. I’ve worked at some good agencies, on some good accounts. And I’ve had the opportunity to work at some great agencies with some great people. There is a difference.
Remember those days when you sat down in the kitchen and your parents asked how your day was? That was communication. You discussed the school system; you fought with your parents. But you had a discussion. It was two-way. If you have parents like the ones I have, they try to help you and, if possible, they open your mind to new ways of thinking and interacting. Some brands have made an effort to interact and communicate with consumers in new ways. To use an analogy: they no longer stand on a street corner and scream at consumers. They don’t just want to sell a product. They want to sell a brand, a feeling, an image and an idea. They’ve stopped their shouting and opened a dialogue.
It can be more difficult to reach consumers today. Nobody actually likes advertising. Our competition is other forms of entertainment like movies, TV, games, art, music – any content that people are trying to experience instead of being force-fed advertising. People want to have nice experiences, they want to play, they want to talk with – not at – and they want to be amazed by nice, respected and well-done communication. And that is advertising’s saviour.
When I’m at home, I have my computer running. Facebook is always beeping, people on Twitter tell me about the news from around the world, my iPad gives me new options to find and read news, and the TV is playing my favourite show. I’m sure younger audiences do even more at the same time. Here’s where a brand can communicate and give us something interesting. Is traditional advertising utilising borrowed interest from a celebrity enough? That might work in some cases. However, I don’t think future generations will be persuaded unless it’s entertaining. They have so much more they can do – why spend the time on something boring? But how can a brand communicate to us without being boring?
Let’s take Nike+ as an example. Nike+ was developed by an agency that believes there are better ways to communicate with an audience. It developed an app that lets you experience the brand in a positive way. But it also found a way to make games with that application. And while you are running against a friend or even by yourself, you are interacting with the brand in a positive way. You will remember that brand. And next time you see a shoe or someone talks to you about Nike, you remember that brand. In my opinion this is one of the best examples of a brand actively communicating with an audience.
Yes, Nike has to sell shoes, and yes, it has TV commercials. Yet it explores new ways of communication. That is where great agencies stand out. They help their clients to come up with new ways to speak with consumers. Instead of giving the client what they want, they give the client what they need. A good relationship between client and agency is one where they challenge each other. There should be tension. Just like dating. And if everything works out, the client has more to spend on advertising and the agency has awards it can brag about.
The less timid a brand is, the more it stands out. Technology brings new opportunities for everybody. Is there a way to change the way we communicate? The way agencies work? The way creatives work? Yes. This industry was built by people who believed in something – people with passion. Let’s remember that. Let’s be passionate and let’s fight mediocrity. Let’s stand up and fight. Let’s sell this shit! Is it a pen? Be passionate about the freakin’ pen – make the pen awesome. Change the pen and make the pen better. Make yourself better. Make the work better. Make communication better.