Premium POV

Listen. Did You Hear That?

It’s been said that listening is a lost art, and quite rightly so. Who among us haven’t worked so hard to have our point of view heard that we stopped short of working to understand the feedback provided?

As advertisers, we are constantly trying to glean salient points that lead us to key insights. Those insights, in turn, inform campaigns and help our clients cut through the noise. If we ignore any incoming information, it is at our own peril. While it’s easy to look at the client-agency relationship as one in which clients come to us for expertise, we should, in equal measure, be adept at lending a keen ear for any information that reveals a key insight that might inform the consumer why our client’s brand is unique and different.

By contrast when we in marketing and advertising “speak” to a client’s audience, are we doing so in such a way that they will listen? Are we providing information to help the consumer make an informed decision about our client’s product or service? Are we being clever for the sake of being clever and creative? Are we being obtuse? Are we being long-winded, a long walk for a short drink as it were? Are we making the distinction that elevates the product from parity to must-have? And the most heinous crime: are we talking to ourselves or an awards jury? The annals of advertising are littered with the laughable carcasses of high-minded gobbledygook that did nothing for the brand and held zero resonance with the consumer. Who remembers these?

-Ford: “Drive One” Half-hearted call to action or going for something super simple? Either way, very boring. Come on, Ford, you can do better.

-Reebok: “Cheat on your Girlfriend, not your workout” Wait a minute, what!? Attempt at misguided humor or just poor judgement? Global backlash and boycotts inferred the latter.

 -Audi “Impossible is Nothing” Inspirational or headscratcher? How can an adjective, “Impossible,” be nothing? Is anything really impossible? And just what is nothing? Hey Audi, Jean-Paul Sartre called, he wants his existentialism back.

-Under Armour: “I Will” It’s not bad on the surface until their device of the open-ended lines on the front kick in. “Run with fight – I will” This is great if your brand voice is Yoda.

-Dr Pepper: “It’s not for women” Misogyny much? One could argue it’s not for men either.

-KFC: “Today Tastes So Good” I love the way a bucket of today tastes. Say no more, or say it better Colonel Sanders.

-Burger King: “Be Your Way” Ridiculous syntax not withstanding, okay. We get it. We should be ourselves. Fair enough, but at least CP+B had the good sense to bring back “Have it your way,” which, in fact, conveys a brand truth: you can customize your order. This new distortion required a press release explanation, proving the line didn’t convey what it was intended to convey.

All of this is to say what great advertisers like David Ogilvy have said since the dawn of good work: “Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating. You know you can’t bore people buying your product, you can only interest them in buying it.” Sage advice that said another way is the rule of two D’s. Define what a product or service does. And then differentiate it.

So, I ask again, listen, did you hear that?

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