Perspective: Best of the blogs


Richard Stacy said at the (recent EACA) seminar: "Advertising is the answer to a question nobody ever asked." As soon as he said that, I loved him.

Later on, he said: "The limited conditions of old media have created advertising. In the same way as the limited conditions of the Ice Age created the woolly mammoth." He carried on to quote Ron Bloom as saying that in the very near future, 50 per cent of all media consumed will be created by consumers.

He said that this insight alone prompted him to dive headfirst into social media - into working in "spaces" rather than "places" (hence the attack on websites). He said the role of marketing would be divided into conversation, content-creation and community-building, and suggested that marketing departments should be renamed conversation departments. It's now well known that Dell, one of the leaders in this area, has a staff of 40 constantly working on the social media sites.

Andy Lark, the guy at Dell who has driven all this, has said that marketing is about "listening to and coalescing all the conversations going on out there". Richard then said that propositions, the backbone of old advertising, weren't just irrelevant - their dead weight could kill brands off in the next decade. It's all about stories, not propositions - eg. Apple's story is built around Steve Jobs' vision that it isn't about technology, it's about the users of technology.

By contrast to companies like Apple, giants like Procter & Gamble, which has dominated marketing for the past five decades or more, are in danger of disappearing because they "burn" their brand stories - eg. they buy IAMS and take away the passion and personality, and substitute a kind of empty, logical proposition.

The other thing that will threaten these big companies is that they're still buying into the idea of buying media. As Richard said: the future is about making media, not buying it.

Steve Henry's blog,


Sometime in the near future, advertising pundits will look back at the current era and reach the conclusion that we blew it.

They'll say we were focused on everything but the problem.

We had dashboards and metrics and click-throughs and webisodes and branded entertainment and a whole galaxy of new and used media outlets ... but what we didn't have was very good advertising.

It seems silly to have to say this, but our industry has reached a point of such grotesque confusion that I'm going to say it anyway -the business of the advertising business is advertising.

If the advertising isn't very good, what difference does the rest of it make?

We analyse everything and understand nothing. We have forgotten that some of the best advertising ideas weren't the result of algorithms and analyses. They were the result of someone sitting on the toilet with a yellow pad and coming up with a great idea.

I'm not advocating throwing caution to the wind and doing whatever the hell sounds like fun, but I am saying that we need to temper our arrogant belief in our analytical abilities with the realisation that there is a great deal about how advertising works that is about imagination, not facts.

Our clients may think they want dashboards and data, but what they really need is ideas.

The longer we stay focused on gee-whiz technologies and media gimmicks while our creative work languishes, the more our value to our clients will erode.

With all the startling innovations in communication, technology and media, one would think that creative innovation would follow as a natural offshoot. But it hasn't. Creativity doesn't work that way. It has its own timetable and its own mind.


Interbrand has just released its 2010 Best Global Brands list. And as you would expect, Coca-Cola is perched at the top of the list.

Somewhat surprisingly, Apple is way down the list at number 17. That's better than last year, when it was ranked at 20, but much lower than I would've expected.

Not that I'm any kind of an expert on the ranking of a brand's value. But why on earth is IBM ranked number two? I don't think its name has ever come up in any meeting or conversation I've had over the past year.

Possibly longer. I would have thought IBM would have lost some of its lustre in recent times. Especially since it made the decision to let a Chinese company manufacture and sell IBM laptops under the Lenovo brand. Weird.