Dave Trott: Don't overthink it

"We were trapped for thirteen hours in our own car" Brian Smith explained to reporters in Alexandra, "and the emergency services told us that we'd have died if we'd been there for another half hour."

[From New Zealand's Otago Daily Times]

It’s a keyless car, so when the door was shut and we didn’t have the transponder key, we couldn’t get out.

We tried to smash the window with a car jack, and we sounded our horn, but it was Guy Fawkes Night and nobody noticed it, due to fireworks.

We were trapped.

By morning, my wife Molljeanne was unconscious and I was struggling to breathe, when neighbours finally rescued us and took us to hospital.

I’ve since been shown that I could have opened the door manually with the door handle, but I didn’t know that then.

I thought the doors would only work with the transponder, so I didn’t try the handle.

I think all owners of keyless cars need to educate themselves in how to operate their car."

So let’s get this right.

This guy and his wife sat in their car for thirteen hours and nearly died because it didn’t occur to them to try the door handle.

That sounds pretty stupid, we’d never do that would we.

And yet we do it every day.

We are so overwhelmed by how complicated we’ve made everything we’ve lost the ability to use simple plain old common sense.

No wonder creative departments are confused.

What exactly is their job?

Is it: native advertising, content curation, storytelling or ideation, big data or hyper local, demographics or psychographics, semiotics, neuro-linguistics, or behavioural economics, choice architecture, cognitive dissonance, loss aversion bias, the sunk-cost heuristic, hyperbolic discounting, or confirmation bias, CRM, SEO, KPI, RPI, or CSR?

In fact they’re expected to know about all of these.

And yet.

Recently, Tim Bell was giving a talk on political advertising.

He and Saatchi helped Thatcher win three elections in a row.

They know all about the complicated world of political advertising.

Tim said this:

"There are two strategies in political advertising.

Either: It’s time to change.

Or: It’s not time to change."

Tim and Saatchis won Thatcher three elections in a row by keeping it simple.

One of the simple things Tim understands is the difference between advertising and marketing.

Advertising isn’t marketing.

Advertising is the voice of marketing.

But most advertising people don’t know that.

Consequently a lot of advertising looks like a marketing mood film with a two second logo on the end.

It keeps everyone in the client’s marketing department happy.

It ticks all the boxes.

And it’s bland and invisible to the consumer.

Because everyone forgot the simple job.

Will ordinary people notice it?

Why should they buy it?

We don’t ask those questions because everything is too complicated.

It never occurs to us to try the door handle.

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