Photo credit: Julian Hanford
Photo credit: Julian Hanford
A view from Dave Trott

A view from Dave Trott: Real-world thinking

When a pilot is flying a plane, he has to be aware of the crosswind.

Otherwise he won’t get to where he’s going.

Suppose he is going from point A to point B.

Suppose he points the plane at point B and flies straight towards it.

Now, suppose a crosswind is coming from his left.

If he carries on simply flying towards point B, the wind will push him to the right.

So he won’t get to point B.

The crosswind will have forced him away from what he is aiming at.

In order to get to where he wants to go, it’s not enough just to aim directly at it.

He has to take into account that the wind will push him off course.

So he aims off. In this case, he aims to the left of point B.

That way, when the wind pushes him to the right, it will be pushing him towards point B instead of away from it.

That’s what a pilot does.

So why can’t advertising people do that?

Why are they blind to the crosswind?

Why do they act as if there are no forces trying to push them off course?

Strategists act as if all they have to do is write a strategy.

Then simply make sure everyone sticks rigidly to it.

Simply point the advertising towards point B and wait until it arrives.

And they are amazed when the advertising fails.

The strategy was right; how come the advertising didn’t work?

Because a massive crosswind, which they didn’t allow for, pushed it off course.

That crosswind is called consumer indifference.

Put simply, no-one out there gives a shit.

There is a massive blizzard of advertising non-communication that exists like wallpaper, background that never even gets noticed.

Strategists never allow for this.

They simply think it is their job to make sure their advertising is pointed directly at point B.

They never consider the massive crosswind of indifference.

Consequently, their advertising never arrives at point B.

It disappears without trace.

Except for the very few smart ones.

The ones who realise they have to factor "getting seen" into the brief.

The ones who offset for the crosswind.

The ones for whom "getting seen and remembered" is at least as important as the strategy.

Because if you factor in "getting seen and remembered", the strategy at least has a chance of working.

If it doesn’t get seen, it has no chance of working at all – how can it?

Without that, it is just an academic exercise.

Like drawing a straight line between points A and B on a piece of paper.

It has no relation to what happens in the real world.

In the real world, consumer indifference will stop all that academic thinking ever seeing the light of day.

In the real world, academic thinking is just the start point.

Real-world thinking is more like Wayne Gretzky.

Gretzky is the greatest ice-hockey player ever.

He scored more goals than anyone in the history of the game.

He said: "You don’t skate to where the puck is, you skate to where it’s going to be."

Dave Trott’s new book, One Plus One Equals Three, is out now.