McCann: "Fealess girl"
McCann: "Fealess girl"
A view from Rob Doubal

McCann co-president: Why everything should be a little more direct

All work should, at the very least, aim to exhibit the traits of good direct communications.

Some people say that "everything is direct" these days. It’s not really, but everything should be, or at the very least aim to exhibit the traits of good direct communications.

The reasons for this are clear – measurable marketing, and with it an intimate knowledge of the audience and consumer. It's the direction we’re all heading in, so agencies should embrace direct.

I once heard the difference between the principles of brand advertising and direct communications explained by way of analogy with a night out at a night club. Imagine going to a club with your pals with the general aim of going on the pull.

You could strut around trying to look cool, put on a bit of a show and dance and there’s the possibility that you may end up with someone at the end of the night, or even a few. This is advertising generally speaking.

But now imagine finding out from a friend that there’s one person in the club that you have to try and attract. All of a sudden it becomes a very different challenge. They’re instantly less likely to want to be interested in you than casting your new wide.

While media proliferation has resulted in there being more "ad noise" than ever before I expect work in the direct category to really be instrumental in proving its value to business.

So the chances are you’re going to have to put more effort in – and you’re probably going to need to learn something about them. You will have to be more tactful, and in this case (your friends standing watching) there is a clear measurable result.

This is direct. And, like any good nightclub lothario, it needs all the best skills of advertisers to pull off.

Because of the increase in the number of advertisers, both large and small, who want a specific measurable outcome, increasingly we’ve been pitching alongside our direct and CRM sister agency MRM – and to good effect.

For example, we collaborated on the Alzheimer’s Society pitch recently, the fruits of which were unveiled earlier this month. This proves that creativity and data are not mutually exclusive and in fact can make happy bedfellows.

At this year’s Cannes festival I expect measurable results and tangible creativity will be more important than ever. While media proliferation has resulted in there being more "ad noise" than ever before I expect work in the direct category to really be instrumental in proving its value to business.

Having said this, as always, the beauty and originality of the ideas in bringing around these changes in business fortunes will be paramount.

In this light, I predict that just three pieces of work will win over 30% of all the Grand Prix and Gold lions across all the categories: "Meet Graham" by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne for the Transport Accident Commission; "Fearless girl" by McCann New York for State Street Global Advisors (top); and "Meet the Superhumans" by 4Creative for Channel 4 Olympics.

All physical, visceral pieces of work that cut through the cultural clutter. But the debate on whether any of these ideas are truly direct is one I’m looking forward to in the Jury room.

And it will hopefully cast a little light on whether everything is direct nowadays, or make the case a little stronger that everything should be a little more direct.

Rob Doubal is the co-president and COO at McCann.