A view from Dave Trott: Advertising for real people
A view from Dave Trott

Advertising for real people

On his radio show, Chris Evans was discussing Piers Morgan’s exit from ITV’s GMB.

The news presenter, Rachel Horne, said she’d had to explain it to her young sons at dinner the previous night.

Evans asked why they were interested in Morgan.

Horne said: “They said he’s a news presenter and you’re a news presenter Mummy. Does that mean you could get fired?

“So I said no, there are two types of news presenters and we’re both different.”

The little boys asked what the difference was.

She said: “Well, some presenters just give you the facts, while other presenters give you their opinion.”

The little boys asked what she meant.

So she said: “Well, tonight you’re having pasta bake for dinner. Now the way I would report on that is to say that it’s made from wheat and cheese, and Quorn because it’s vegetarian. Then I might ask you what you each think of it.”

Her first son said he liked it, it tasted really good.

Her second son said he liked it because he could eat it with his spoon.

She said: “OK, so I’d sum up by saying that all the people we interviewed were happy with their pasta bake and seemed willing to have it for dinner again.”

The boys nodded along, but they wanted to know what Morgan would do.

She said: “OK, he’d say we’ve got some vegetarian rubbish here today. I don’t know what’s wrong with a decent piece of meat but there you go. What do these people think?”

Her first son said: “Well, as I said, I like it because…”

She interrupted: “Absolute rubbish, we don’t want any of that hippie nonsense. You there – what do you think?”

Her second son said: “Well, I like it too because…”

She interrupted again: “Total nonsense, the country’s gone mad. We all need a decent meal made with real meat to sort us out.”

Then she said to her boys: “That’s the two sorts of news presenters. I give you the facts while Piers Morgan just gives you his opinion.

“So you can see we’re quite different – that’s why you don’t have to worry about me getting fired.”

And her sons were reassured and went back to eating their pasta bake.

I like several things she did there.

First, I like the way she took something in front of them to use as a demonstration: the pasta bake that they were all eating.

This made it real and accessible, not theoretical, not abstract.

Second, I like the way she made it a simple presentation of the two kinds of news – not saying which was better, just demonstrating the difference.

Third, I like the way she made the boys answer the questions themselves, getting them involved instead of just having to sit there and listen.

Fourth, I like the simple binary summary, not a complicated list of all the possible subtle differences.

I think that’s a great demonstration of what advertising should be doing.

Taking a complicated situation, simplifying it, clarifying it, demonstrating it, involving our audience.

All possible nuances can be added once the structure of the choice is clear.

Simple understanding stays with people much longer than a lecture.

Dave Trott is the author of The Power of Ignorance, Creative Blindness and How to Cure It, Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three