THE MEDIA YEARBOOK: Brett Morris, group CEO of FCB South Africa, reminds us what we may neglect when we follow the buzz.
What doesn’t happen very frequently is a follow-up on those predictions. This is because as an industry we are obsessed with the new and different but become quickly dismissive of the known and predictable. We abandon one illegitimate prediction after another, quickly moving on to the next ill-conceived prophecy without taking any responsibility for those that have been left parentless.As advertisers and marketers, we are often asked to comment on ‘what the future holds’ for our business or to predict the ‘next big thing’.
Now I’m not advocating that we need to honour the known and the predictable. We are duty bound to continually create communications that break the patterns of the obvious and offer them up in a compelling way. More than that, we need to refine how we produce our communications, always aware of the evolving technologies and platforms that create opportunities for us to communicate in more interesting ways.
But we must, at the same time, honour the fundamentals and constants that always have, and always will, underpin communications.
Perhaps we should stop predicting ‘The rise of…’ or ‘The death of…’ and focus rather on the ‘The relevance of…’ or even ‘The engagement with…’. Forget about new media versus old media. Let’s talk about the right media versus the wrong media.
So what are those constants and fundamentals? Well let’s tackle the two earth-shatteringly unsurprising ones: emotion and insight.
Emotional advertising is 11 times more efficient in market share growth according to Donald Gunn of The Gunn Report, which measures competitive excellence in the global advertising industry.
So why is it that so much advertising seems intent on ignoring the power of emotion in favour of emotionless content? Part of the answer is that we are constantly looking for other ‘easier’ ways to connect.
The digital era has seen the worst of this, where digital was mistaken for a strategy in itself, rather than just a medium. This is why, when a new platform or technology presents itself, it usually takes some time for it to be used in a way that elicits the right kind of emotional response. And eliciting an emotional response is never going to be easy. It takes insight, nuance and craft, and requires having an opinion.
This is where the context of a changing media environment becomes important and makes our lives even more difficult in an era of disposable content. You are not only expected to connect emotionally with your audience but you also have to do it on a far more regular basis, sometimes daily.
Agencies will have to adapt to a new model of high-value, high frequency content but it can’t happen at the expense of insight and emotional connection. This may take the form of a simple image, a well-crafted piece of copy or video content that doesn’t blow the budget (which will require production companies to evolve as much as agencies and clients need to).
The medium is not the message, however. Just because we are now able to reach our audience on more platforms in more intimate spaces doesn’t mean that they want us to reach them. That is, at least not unless we can add some value to their lives and offer them something relevant and engaging.
And what about insight? How do we find those gems, particularly in a data rich world? Big data has been touted as another panacea for all marketing woes. Ironically, it seems that even though we have access to loads more data, we are not getting any more relevant insights.
Maybe all that data is confusing the issue rather than helping it.
Perhaps we’ve started looking for the wrong kind of things – like how old we are, where we live or the last thing we searched for. Analysis of data can default towards a rational view, in contrast to new marketing theory that is coming to terms with the fact that human beings are ‘Predictably Irrational’ (with thanks to Dan Ariely, author of a book of the same name).
Evidence shows that 95% of all our decisions are made intuitively based on what feels right at the time. When you tap into the fundamental needs that bind us or the cultural nuances that talk straight to our hearts and move us emotionally, then you are able to connect in more profound way.
My prediction is that no matter how many new and shiny things come our way, we will always need emotion and insight. And those who can champion them in the ever-evolving media and technology context will win. You can hold me to that.
This post was first published in 2015 The Media Yearbook. A digital version of the full magazine can be downloaded here.
IMAGE: FCB South Africa / What matters to us
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