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“Present day advertisers are guilty of using complicated language”

Marketers use ‘big words’ like native advertising, storytelling, content curation, etc to sound like experts but instead, they are complicating the process by thinking complex is clever, says creative director, author and blogger Dave Trott.

By: | Updated: September 20, 2016 7:16 AM
(Photo: Amit Mehra) Everybody is copying each other. Agencies don’t need to compete with Google or Facebook. They must know how to use it, said Dave. (Photo: Amit Mehra)

Marketers use ‘big words’ like native advertising, storytelling, content curation, etc to sound like experts but instead, they are complicating the process by thinking complex is clever, says creative director, author and blogger Dave Trott. In an interview with BrandWagon’s Ankita Rai, he talks about why it is essential for admen to talk in a simple language, while also highlighting the role of technology and social media in aiding creativity. Excerpts:

Mobile-first has become a buzzword in the marketing and advertising space. Do you think leading marketers lack creativity in their mobile campaigns?

Present day advertisers are guilty of using complicated language. At the moment, in advertising, everybody talks about content curation, heuristics, algorithms, storytelling, native advertising, mobile optimising, cross-platform rich media, etc. The basic function of advertising is not content curation, big data or native advertising. The most important job of advertising is, one, to get noticed, and two, aid brand recall.

Consider this: Every year in the UK approximately £18.4 billion is spent on all forms of advertising. However, only 4% people remember ads positively and 7%, negatively. But a majority of 89% doesn’t notice or remember the ad at all. If you don’t talk about simple things that work for ordinary people, you will fall in that 89% bracket. If you live in a metropolitan city, you are exposed to over a thousand advertising messages every day between TV, radio, prerolls, etc. The problem for advertisers is how to stand out and make people remember. You need to talk to real people: that truck driver, the housewife — ordinary people. If you don’t reach them, your advertising doesn’t work. Using big words like native advertising, storytelling, content curation only reflects upon the ignorance of current day marketers. This doesn’t work in the creative world.

How can advertisers best exploit mobile as a medium?

Mobile is just another channel. One should use it only if it is relevant to the target audience. But marketers start with mobile just because it is trending while their target market may not be active on mobile. If we are talking to people under 30, with high disposable income, mobile is a good way to reach them. But most of the money is with housewives and they not only shop for themselves, but for the entire family. And she doesn’t spend all her time on mobile. So if I am advertising products like washing powder or baby food, mobile may not be the best place to be. So, start with the audience first, not with what is trending.

Also, what is trending in media may not be true for all. It is true for very small markets in urban areas. Mobile is just one medium, social is another. If you want to be disruptive, there is no point looking for solutions that already exist.

Increasingly, there is a trend towards using channels such as VR and artificial intelligence in addition to social media when designing campaigns. In your opinion, is technology aiding creativity? Does it help in making content go viral?

Yes, in the same way as coloured photography, films and TV. Anything, which involves technological advancement aids creativity. Technology is another tool for creative people. But it should be seen only as a tool, not a prison. Your starting point cannot be technology. You go viral by a great idea via the human brain. Technology is one of the ways to go viral. An hour of video is downloaded on YouTube every minute. But most of it is never seen again. What is important is the quality of the idea. Technology is just a vehicle. The difference is how you outthink other people as everyone is using the same technology.

Viral has been around forever. For example, English icecream trucks in my hometown play the Greensleeves folk tune to announce their arrival. The song was composed by Henry VIII nearly 500 years ago. The song went viral when there was no Twitter or Facebook or even electricity. For an idea to spread, it must go viral from brain to brain. Social media is a good tool. But it is not the only way to go viral. The power of word of mouth still exists.

Today clients demand constant content to feed social media such as video, tweets and Instagram to create buzz around campaigns. Is the increased focus by brands on content marketing really worth it?

A majority of people don’t know what they are doing. They are just part of the blind race to do mobile and digital. Buddha said, “Don’t believe your mind. It is very lazy.” To be creative is to be brave and different. Creativity is disobedience to your mind. Advertisers shouldn’t be frightened to be different to stand out.

Native ads, storytelling and content marketing don’t work in the short-term. On the contrary, it is a long-term brand building exercise which takes four-five years to work. If you want something immediate, don’t use native. You don’t do brand building in a week. But marketing executives, especially those fresh out of college, don’t understand that. It is due to the fear of missing out (FOMO).

The only people doing content right are newspapers and media companies, because their product is content. But if your product is not content, why are you so highly focussed on it? Pepsi added 3% worldwide in their sales by displacing Coke in McDonald’s. That’s massive. Before going into content, companies need to first understand the business problem. Running content online just to sell your

product doesn’t work. So if you are selling glasses, you should be clear who you are selling to, understand the demographic and target audience and what kind of market you need to target. Accordingly, you should put up the content in the right publication. Start with the consumer and then work backwards.

What are the key disruptive trends in the ad space?

There are none because everybody is doing the same thing. In order to be disruptive, you have to be different. But everybody is copying each other. Agencies don’t need to compete with Google or Facebook. They must know how to use it. Twitter is really a fantastic medium for me. But it is not using sponsored tweets properly. They are all just ads. Sponsored tweets should be entertaining and engaging and not just like an ad.

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