How to make
advertising
work
CHAPTER 6
Getting the message right
P
utting all your eggs in one basket always seems risky, so if
you do, watch that basket! I always advise people to use
professionals to produce advertising as with good design
it is rare for an amateur to produce anything that has the power
and freshness a professional will achieve. However, sometimes
you have no choice. Here are a series of things to help if you are
doing this yourself.
First of all read your brief. Five times. Your brief is your exam
question. Take a big A2 pad and start to generate ideas. Short
phrases; anything that catches the eye and is on the brief. After
an hour or so hopefully you’ll have a few thoughts that are worth
pursuing.
brilliant
tip
If you can, work with someone else sometime during this process to
check what you are doing. This process is very much about two heads
being better than one and a case of input helping to create output.
How people get their ideas
Like all artists they beg, borrow or steal them. As Picasso said,
‘Amateurs borrow, professionals steal’, but if you watch them,
senior creative people in advertising agencies read more than
most people, listen to more music, visit more art galleries, watch
a lot more films than average. They are like blotting paper.
If you have an idea you like it could be a headline or a picture
show it to your wife, husband, child, mother, father, friend,
whoever and get a reaction. If in doubt, reject it. And reconcile
yourself to a harsh reality of life. This is hard and may take quite
a long time. But if you think you’ve cracked it, leave whatever
you’ve done and come back to it 24 hours later.
72 bri lliant marketing
What hooks people?
It’s about connecting with them; creating an echo in their brain;
doing what nursery rhymes do to young children. It’s about
assonance or alliteration or rhymes or reference to something
else or a piece of wit.The difference between two versions of one
of the oldest advertising lines may seem subtle but it isn’t:
You’ll wonder where the yellow went
You wonder where the yellow’s gone
The first one gets hooked into your mind that much faster
because of the assonance of yellow and went. But the impact is all
the greater and the whole line becomes unforgettable when you
are told the brand is Pepsodent. This may not be poetry but it’s
great verse:
You’ll wonder where the yellow went
when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent
brilliant
tip
In the cold light of day what seemed genius at 11.30pm sometimes
reveals itself in its true colours as being garbage at 11.30am the
next day.
How to make advertising work 73
A checklist
If you like checklists use the following:
Is it on brief?
Is it clear and understandable?
Is it going to stand out?
Is it expressed in a relaxed way?
Is it memorable?
What will it look like in context (for instance in a
newspaper, on a wall, on someone’s doormat)?
Is it likely to sell anything?
If you’re not getting ticks on this checklist then it’s back to the
drawing board. All of which is why, if
you can afford it, using professionals
is so much better. Their drawing
boards are a better place than your
drawing board, believe me.
Making advertising agencies do great work for you
You don’t get to work at an advertising agency unless you have
what someone I know calls the ‘smarts’. Jeremy Bullmore, who
is one of the cleverest men to have been in advertising, describes
creative people as wearing black T-shirts and looking perman-
ently grumpy.
In my experience they are often quite insecure, wondering if they
can still produce great work (or any work) and feeling only as
good as their last advertisement. Although one told me his
greatest terror was the next ad just wouldn’t come. A bit like
Sparky and his magic piano when the piano revolts and Sparky
is exposed.
But account handlers, or ‘suits’ as some call them, tend to be
if you can afford it,
using professionals is so
much better

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