I remember three years ago standing in my lounge chatting to a friend of mine who works at an advertising agency. She was telling me about how they build brands for Revlon. The fragrance analysts, or whatever you call them, come up with something that smells great and lives in a small glass bottle filed under some kind of laboratory name.
The “P719X5”, or whatever the guys in the white coats decide to call it, is then handed over to the ad agency so they can come up with a name, CI, packaging and a campaign to launch the product into the market.
It immediately got me thinking about the amount of work the agency must go through to get this right. After many hours of research, design concepts, copywriting, reverts and focus groups, “Dark Night”, or whatever the guys in the slip slops decide to call it, is ready to hit shelves backed by an ad campaign that makes the consumer aware that anything they thought was solving their perfume problems before this moment was a total misconception and that they shouldn’t only thank their lucky stars that “Dark Night” has arrived but also get down to their nearest Clicks and buy one immediately.
It was at this point that I had to ask why.
Why does a brand that gives this much attention and perceive this much value in advertising their product, not invest the same degree of attention, love and budget when advertising on mobile?
And then it hit me, like that sinking feeling you get when you’re on the way to Durban, driving your father-in-law’s car, seeing the petrol light come on when you are at least 100km from a filling station and realising the sparks coming from behind you are from the tyre on the trailer and dad forgot to pack a spare.
Advertising agencies are successful because they merge left and right brain thinking.
I then realised why mobile agencies are not getting the same respect the traditional agencies are getting and why their results are so shoddy (and if you argue that the results aren’t shoddy then why is mobile still getting such little budget compared to traditional media?).
Concepts that are born from mobile agencies are created by people with marketing minds – a marketing mind is logical, analytical and linear – I know, because I have a marketing mind.
Even Ivan Moroke said it himself – when on the panel interview at the launch of The Annual last week (having been a strategist in his past life) – that it’s generally not a good idea for a strategist to come up with the concept for the TVC if you are expecting a creative result.
Strategists are marketers too – they think in the same way. We have to, because it’s the left hemisphere of the brain that allows us to be analytical, logical, linear and great problem solvers. And we are great problem solvers – for us it’s about pushing more feet into store, getting more bums on seats and driving sales. We get excited about the result, the numbers and, in the case of mobile, the tech, though we know a big idea when we see one.
Creatives, on the other hand, get excited about the big idea and how it will engage the senses, the emotions it will stir up, the perceptions it will change in the consumer’s mind and the lasting impression it will leave behind. Creatives don’t care about how the TV works, or where the billboard is going to be positioned or, in the case of mobile, the tech. They’re right brain thinkers.
So is the conclusion here that a mobile agency needs to incorporate a creative mind, with solid traditional experience, into a strategic team, with solid mobile marketing experience, all working towards the business goals laid out by the brand team?
Well, sort of – though it’s not so cut and dry. Everyone knows that mobile has a specific skill set – if you don’t know how the tech functions then you will deliver campaigns that don’t work on cellphones. Adversely, if the person coming up with the concept knows too much about the tech, then their thinking is automatically limited by what the cellphone can do.
So mobile calls for a new breed of creatives and strategists. We need creatives
who can build concepts based on an understanding of mobile that does not limit their thinking and strategists that can put their understanding of mobile aside and embrace the big idea (As scary as it sometimes can be when the ideas are totally left-field).
When a mobile agency achieves this and they have successfully merged left and right brain thinking then they are well on their way to creating the future of mobile advertising that incorporates everything that has made traditional advertising work up until now. And when advertising works on mobile it automatically becomes viral because mobile is a viral touch point.
Ryan Gandalf van Jaarsveld is MD of 7Dffrnt Knds of Smke
Follow him on Twitter @RyanGandalf