Looking back, I remember Dennis Auton, my first creative director at
Young and Rubicam. Commercials were presented to him adhering to a
strict formula. He would view an ad three times mute, and then three
times with the sound track. He said: ‘We receive 80 per cent of our
information through our eyes.’ Try looking at some of the commercials
today without the soundtrack.
Over at J. Walter Thompson in Berkeley Square, the intellectual debate
of ‘stimulus’ and ‘response’ was taking place. Creating the desired
response in the agreed target market - what is that required response
and how do you get it?
I don’t look back and consider all our yesterdays to have been golden.
The strength of British ads today lies in the excellence of the creative
thinking - although the same strengths are not shown in the way business
Allegedly, there are more than a million pounds worth of disputed
insurance claims - none to do with the weather - bruising both sides of
the production industry. The disputes panel could sit weekly from now
until September and still not clear the backlog. The very existence of
this panel means that the ultimate authority to manage the production
process is spread too thinly. The lines of real responsibility are too
blurred. That has to change.
Evidence is creeping in that all of us involved in advertising may have
forgotten that we have to earn the right to be seen and heard. Opinion
makers, it is rumoured, are up in arms over some of our selling methods,
especially to children. It is nearly ten years since any consumer
research was done on the acceptability of advertising. Then, the
positive response was in the high 80 per cent. I hope that the new
research being done doesn’t show a steep decline. Getting back to the
high ground requires more investment, more planning, more care.
Is confusion now an art form? Have we pushed the moral boundaries too
far? Do we measure success by the number of column inches of comment
that an ad generates?
Every day we spend thousands of pounds of someone else’s money on the
creation and execution of advertising messages. No wonder money is once
again becoming a key issue. I used to have a client in the North of
England who, when confronted by his latest production estimate, looked
me in the eye and said: ‘Michael, if it is in my film I’ll pay, but if
it is in yours, you pay.’ That sharpened the thinking.
Mike Gilmour heads the advertising production consultancy, Bird Bonette