The recent political developments in the world show us -once again- how simple the persuasion is. If you give people what they want, if you tell them what they want to hear; they just nod. It is not about your charisma and wisdom, it is about their egos. They need to be assured, they need to feel good about who they are and how they function. The power of familiarity is usually underestimated. People need to like themselves, and if the mirrors can show something beautiful and acceptable back to them, they will be enchanted. Since they rarely have an acknowledgement of their own individual identity, mirrors can stick to stereotypical images. Play on the common grounds, find the socially acceptable. Say something that appraises social morals, everyday fandom, the race of the majority, the gender norms, common life-style, the religion, the land, the flag, patriotism… Play on the values of the herd and call them “human insights”. Do it and you’ll win.
Beside politicians, this simple method is followed by advertisers as well. They feed social stereotypes, deny minorities, play on “picture perfect”: wealthy families, beautiful people, tidy houses, cute animals, lovely babies, sunny days… Is it ethical? Who cares… It is advertising, whatever works! The opportunistic mind set in advertising wins. Because it is simply a competition. Think about a basketball game, if the referee doesn’t see the foul, then it is not a foul. Right? So why play clean?
However it gets dangerous. And if the advertising industry itself wouldn’t stop it, there will be serious consequences. But they do not care, they care about Cannes Lions. They prefer to design ghost work just for Cannes, and they need to so because everyday work usually cannot win at Cannes. You have to demonstrate a refined sophistication to meet jury’s high expectations. And the mirrors should be fine-tuned according to the audience, the jury.
Before digital archives were established, winning with ghost works was much more easy. Nobody had no idea about the work’s real exposure, the jury was just focusing (?) on originality of the idea and the implementation quality. But now it got more complicated. Since well-seeded digital content has a strong power to spread, every work can be effectively exposed to the jury, but not the real people. And there are many fake apps, set-up digital videos (please see), manipulated case-videos, etc. that pretend to be real and perceived as real by the jury. On top of this, this year a new strategy caught my attention. Some of the agencies keep their case-videos under-exposed before the competition or start to seed just before Cannes Lions, to have a surprising effect or a recency leverage (See, Lürzer’s archive). Which confirms that the work is really created to target nobody but the jury. Well done, my friends! Nobody saw the foul and you got the medal! Now go back to your office and deliver that ugly everyday work ASAP. Yaay!
I am not against trade-fairs though, they are great if they are fair! Why not Cannes turn into something that agencies can show their concepts, their thinking and differentiation points like other industries. Why are we pushing people to fraud? The answer is simple, because that fair is totally a show off to make the “client” be proud by bribing them with awards and make them pay more for more (?) creativity! And they fall into it, they go there, attend the parties, have fun and a Lion, then come back home, and update their CV, and go back to work and write the worst brief ever for another ugly everyday work to be delivered ASAP.
If you fake to get a Lion, then you’ll fake to get a pitch. Maybe fake as if the “big idea” is yours, fake when you fuck up things, fake to attract the best young talent and abuse them… The fake is already absorbed by the advertisers you’re working for. Yes. We all know that their brand purpose is fake! Their USP was fake, their emotional benefit was fake, too. They were all based on some made up insights that strategists written as a post-rationalization of your creative work. Because your CD simply liked that idea, not the one with the valid insight that the researchers gave. They were boring anyways and they always give you the stating-the-obvious insights. Nah!
So the game is easy, we make strong friendships at Cannes. They like to work with us, because we are very cool. We deliver mediocre and familiar shit to them daily that usually meets their ROI targets. If not, then the problem is always about the distribution.
There is only one little problem in this lovely game of ours, which is the alienation of advertising. Day by day, the industry loses its relevance, credibility, reliability and effectiveness. Day by day advertisers grow more tendency to try new agency models. Day by day, brands go after engineered ideas to sustain attention through paid media and become risk avert. Day by day, we are being less paid. Day by day, advertisers question to be loyal to one agency. Because we are no longer respected.
In my opinion, now is a good time to re-analyze what we did wrong. Advertising industry can not and should not erode. It is a vital support for all creative industries. We help new directors emerge, new graphic designers to make their living, new actors to be exposed. We grow economies, we inform and educate consumers. We create added value to products and make them strong brands.
So let’s go back to the substance, back to basics. It is not about telling lies but telling the truth in a most compelling way. The truth needs no medium, no scripts, no case studies, no complications and even no social media accounts. And you cannot make up the truth, it should be there, lying within the brand and waiting for you to see and tell it. The egos of the CDs are irrelevant, funny digital videos are shallow, gorgeous productions are to be forgotten. Only the truth matters. Whenever you find the truth, you have to put your arrogance aside and make that truth sharpened. Do not play with it, do not fake it, do not over dress it. Keep it simple, keep it real, keep in sincere.
This gentleman will tell you why…