Updated every once in a long time. Probably.
February 25th, 2016
UX is for copywriters, too.
You surely know that quote about 1 pic being worth 1 000 words, right? Confucius said that, right? Well, no he didn’t. Someone invented it in early 20th century. And it’s completely wrong. Need proof? Go ahead, paint a picture that will be understood as those 7 little words “One picture is worth a thousand words”. See?
But I digressed before I even started.
UX design. User experience. Design. Well, I think it’s not just about design. Sometimes it would really really really help if writers did a bit of UX thinking when writing.
For instance Tinder’s writer could have thought a bit about their Apple Watch notifications.
Above is what I would’ve done so the notification is useful even when wearing long sleeves.
It’s a super-tiny fix. But it requires a bit of thinking when writing. Or iterating on the writing.
Oh, by the way, it’s not just Tinder’s fault. Facebook’s Messenger and pretty much all the other messaging apps I ever used get it just as wrong. Bummer.
September 22nd, 2015
Be fierce with your clients.
Dear agencies, be fierce with your clients. Dear account managers, do stand up to the changes request. Dear creatives, fight for your ideas.
Dear clients, require your agencies to disagree with you loudly.
I know nobody really likes to fight with their partners. But it’s truly essential we do. Not at home, but in business.
I always did disagree with my art directors. Sometimes we had a shouting match or two even.
I also always disagreed with my clients. And that’s a good thing. It’s a great thing.
A couple times I candidly told the CMO on the other side of the table that I will always disagree with them. That I will always question their opinions and judgments. And once I stop doing that they should fire me, because it means we’re all in big trouble.
I disagree because I care. And once I stop caring, the easiest way to tell is by me being fine with whatever they say.
That’s my simple logic.
I’ve seen great positioning ideas end up in shitty ads that didn’t help the brand only because the agency didn’t push back enough. And of course they didn’t. It’s hard to stand up to the one who pays your bills. To the one who has to make the final call and whose mortgage is on the line – because that’s the client, not us. Ever.
Still, we’re not helping anyone by letting the client have it their way all the time.
And let me make one thing clear: being fierce and challenging the client doesn’t mean you have a free card to disregard them. Clients aren’t stupid. And even if and when they are, they have their reasons for whatever they’re asking you to do. They might know a bit more about their own business or internal politics than you do.
Which is why I always listen. And use my brain to decide when the client is right and when maybe not. And quite often even though I am fierce in our discussions I end up agreeing with them. But not without a fight. Not without hearing arguments I can then agree with.
September 18th, 2015
Strategy is sexy. Account planning is cool.
It’s a fact. Because the new, exciting strategic ideas – something that is even more rare than a novel creative idea in advertising – is what builds a brand.
Sure, it’s easier to win a Lion with a ghost print or OOH ad for a Tabasco sauce with the message “It’s super, very, really hot!” if you can find an unusual and probably rather obscure way of visualizing this generic message.
But you will never build a successful brand that sells at a higher margin than the competition with that.
And isn’t that what advertising is all about?
At least to me it is. So I don’t care about the ghost ads. Can’t be bothered to get upset about them even. Where I go “Damn, I wish I’ve done that!” is where the strategic insight is novel.
Especially because I can totally see how it could’ve gone wrong.
All it would’ve taken is the creatives being their cynical arrogant selves during briefing. Wishing for a brief that’s easy like that Tabasco one.
And I’m really glad nobody in that original Dove briefing where the planner introduced the idea of Campaign for real beauty no senior copywriter asked “What’s that shit? I mean, everyone knows that the personal care industry is based on showing beautiful women. This will never work!”
I can picture a junior art director wondering aloud in the Old Spice briefing that gave us The man your man could smell like how the hell is this supposed to be a good campaign if we target women for a male product. “Should we do a stupid dancing Chippendales ad for this brief?”. And I’m very happy he didn’t.
See what I mean?
Ideas are fragile. We, creatives, always say that. It’s good to remember that even if the ideas aren’t ours. Because sometimes sarcastically questioning the brief can kill the mood. And kill the best thing about a great campaign that could’ve been.
July 2nd, 2015
Yes, You’re Doing It Wrong.
If you’re a senior creative/creative director who spent a couple years in traditional and then a couple in digital, this might sound familiar:
You get a call (email, twitter DM, whatever, whatever) from a big, famous agency. They need to fill a role of the lead digital sucker. More likely titled Digital Creative Director. And your name came up and would you be interested?
All the big, traditional agencies need to catch up with the digital realities. Well, alright, there are some who (more or less) managed to do it. But most didn’t. And they have to. The money’s running away to new hot shops. And not just because digital budgets are growing at the expense of that TVC shoot extravaganza (as if there has been a TVC shoot extravaganza enabling budget in the past 5 years, anyway!). The new hot digital shops now learned how to shoot videos and that means they are doing a pretty good job on TVCs. And perhaps event prints and posters. The horror, the horror.
So they called you and you said no.
Because you’ve been through the talks before. And you know that it’s a doomed job title. A doomed attempt. Even though you’d love nothing more than the ability to do integrated campaigns and media agnostic campaigns and just plainly do something that solves the brief and not care about what type of media it has to run in/on.
Finally I’m getting to the part where I explain why it’s the case and how it could all work out (but won’t).
So, what’s the problem with the BTA’s (I’m getting tired of typing big traditional agency) plan to hire you and turn things around? Couple things.
Basically, the problem is that their approach is to take a new puzzle piece that doesn’t fit and add it to a completed puzzle picture. Or even a couple new puzzle pieces (if they’re about to hire more people than just you). But that’s not how puzzles work. That’s not how puzzles are fun (if they are ever fun for anyone).
See, by adding a maverick Digital Creative Director to float somehow among your established and functioning teams is not the solution. Your established and functioning teams will never buy into that. How could they? They have been established and functioning for so long. A new puzzle piece that comes from somewhere else? Speaks differently? Needs them to produce their ideas much faster? Wants to have a say in their wonderful ideas that work perfectly fine for the TVC and press ad? Says they won’t work in digital? Who is that guy anyway? We are the established and functioning team here and we will approve your addition to our campaign, not the other way around!
And I don’t blame them to think all this and act accordingly. Your job title might say Something Creative Director, but they’re title says simply Creative Director. You lose.
Here comes the part where I pretend to know the solution to everything.
Maybe there’s a way. And I might be completely wrong, because I tend to turn these opportunities down rather than go for it.
Here’s how I think the scenario could work out:
Don’t make me a floating Digital Creative Director. Make me a Creative Director of one of your teams. With my own people (some might have to be fired, some new hired – we’ll need some new skillsets and experiences, sorry). With my own clients I can get to know and align with their objectives. With my own planner who will brief us with distinctive targets of what needs to be achieved by the digital part of the campaign and what by the traditional (or when to deploy which at all).
And give me 12 months.
I should show some results within 6, but you see, I don’t want to overpromise, because we all have no idea what we’re doing here anyway, do we?
What should happen is this: the agency’s work on my clients will start to look more and more digital-ish. It will be small steps and I will need an extra budget for booze to keep my team motivated in the face of having their great ideas killed by lack of time or understanding of the digital marketing’s realities. But slowly, we’ll start to see changes. Traditional campaigns with a digital hook to them.
Small at first.
Than we do a campaign sans any digital component, because that’s what fits the brief and client’s challenge best. It’s alright. No reason to panic. We’ll get back to doing something that’s perhaps even pure digital play. Or not. But our work should definitely look different from the rest of the agency’s work.
And here’s where the ECD’s job comes in: It’s his/her job to find a mild and inviting way to get the other CDs around and try it out for themselves. Or ask for input. Or change the structure of their team. Or do something else so they can also do integrated campaigns. Because they’ve witnessed it is possible. And the ECD made it look not like a threat to them.
Or you just fire all the old CDs, hire more digitally savvy CDs and restructure the rest of the teams. Depends on how much of the dark-side you’ve got in you.
All that is, of course, unless I’m completely mistaken.