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Managing Marketing: Strategy, Creativity and Where it all Went Wrong

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Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Eaon Prichard is a Global Strategy Consultant, Founder of ArtScienceTechnology, Mentor, Tutor, and Author. His thought-provoking books, “Where did it all go wrong” and “Shot by both sides” provide an opportunity for practitioners of marketing, advertising and creativity  to review and rethink everything they may believe. He talks about the process of writing the books and his third book to be published soon.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media, and advertising, with industry thought leaders and practitioners.

Today, I’m sitting down with Eaon Pritchard, Global Strategy Consultant, founder of Art Science Technology, and author of the fabulous thought-provoking books; Where Did It All Go Wrong? Adventures at the Dunning Kruger Peak of Advertising, and his latest, Shot By Both Sides: What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate. Welcome, Eaon.

Eaon:

Well, thank you for having me Darren. Very nice to … wanted to say to be here, but of course, it’s nice for you to be here as well because this is-

Darren:

I’ve come to visit you.

Eaon:

Yeah, and we’re both in someone else’s place, but there we go.

Darren:

What I have trouble with the latest book is actually saying what we have here is a failure to communicate without putting on a deep Southern accent.

Eaon:

So, you know where it comes from then.

Darren:

As a homage to Cool Hand Luke.

Eaon:

Correct. So, there’s a chapter … well, I tried to make this one a bit like the … any sort of Led Zeppelin fans will know the album called … is it Houses of Holy? But I can’t remember … one of the albums is called that but the track that’s the same name as the album is not on that album. It’s in a different album.

So, the chapter, what we have here is a failure to communicate, that was the start of the book but actually never made it to the final cut. So, because it just didn’t seem to fit. So, it’ll probably be in the next one.

Darren:

And years from now, people will be looking, scholars will be looking back on your work, your body of work, and they’ll be going, “Now, what was the deep significance of actually dropping that and putting it in the next …”

Eaon:

And I’m looking forward to finding out what that was when they tell me too-

Darren:

It’s one of the issues, isn’t it? With the human brain, is that we like making sense of things when often there is no sense.

Eaon:

There is no sense. People say to me what are the books about? And I say, well, one’s about 220 pages and the other one’s about 260, but I think that’s possible, that’s why that chapter never made it because it was going beyond what I thought the optimum size of the book should be.

Darren:

So, look, I’ll have to tell you that I’ve read both of them and they’re terrific pieces of work in that they’ve captured almost a reflective moment in time. The first one, I think it’s reasonable to say is autobiographical, it’s your journey through the awakening of what’s it all mean? And where did it go wrong? Is that fair?

Eaon:

Yeah, I mean, that is correct because people … I’ve had criticism from people who haven’t read the book but have just read the cover. And they’re saying, “Who do you think you are? Saying that the ad industry has a Dunning-Kruger effect?” I say, “It’s about me and if you read that chapter, that is my story.”

But I got to the point where I know I was … there’s an old Buddhist proverb, which is about well, it’s about how a wise man knows he’s stupid, but a stupid man thinks he’s wise or something like that.

Darren:

And that pretty much sums up the Dunning-Kruger effect, doesn’t it?

Eaon:

So, I had that moment and then I just remembered that and a few things… I’d written a few things and they seemed to join together and that just really became a book. But you’re right, I mean, it’s very much my own story of just having a moment of realising my own incompetence.

Darren:

But I don’t think you’re alone, and in some ways, I think the part where you talk about going and presenting the importance of social media to a business and everyone just sits there and I think someone handed you a copy of Byron Sharp’s book and said, “Read this and come back when you understand it.”

Eaon:

This was 2010 just when I first came to Australia. And yeah, I got wheeled out to a lot of people … if I don’t name names you will be able to join the dots. I got wheeled out to, Ballarat, to the headquarters of a major FMCG organisation who after I’d done the talk, a kindly sort of Brand Manager put that book in my bag and said, “Read that.” So, you’ll probably guess who that is.

But even then, because I read through that probably still in denial for probably about a year. But then eventually, just faced with evidence, you change your mind. And I do wonder, I think it can be quite risky to change your mind. I think that’s why maybe some bad ideas prevail in the industry because it can be career-limiting to not continue with things as they are.

Darren:

We see this all the time where marketers, especially, are doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome. And that’s a famous quote often attributed to Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome.”

The thing is that it takes so much courage to strike out into somewhere new. In fact, John Mortimer who wrote Rumpole of the Bailey wrote a book called Clinging to the Wreckage, an autobiography. And he says the metaphor of clinging to the wreckage is it’s always easier to cling to the wreckage of your life than it is to strike out and swim for shore, because there could be sharks that might be too far, and you could drown.

I think it’s almost human nature, preservation to not want to challenge the status quo.

Eaon:

Definitely in certain contexts. I touch on this in the second book, but I take a little bit of issue with some of the proponents of behavioural economics, which has become very popular because you can just pull out biases and say, well, if humans are loss-averse, for instance, they’re risk-averse, it’s like, well, yes, in certain circumstances.

But in our business, if everyone was loss-averse and risk-averse, nobody would pitch for a new piece of business because you’re almost certain to fail and it costs a heap of money. And so, that’s the context where we’re not risk-averse or loss-averse.

Darren:

Except that I could reframe that and say that if they don’t pitch, they’ve lost because the opportunity’s there and they’re pitching for the opportunity. Even though rationally, the odds of pulling this off are long, they see that if they don’t pitch for it, the odds are zero.

Eaon:

Well, that’s it. But we’re attracted to the potential payoffs of uncertainty. The same as we modify things on perceived loss. But that’s my point with the cut-and-dried nature of this bias, that bias, that bias, is because yes, they exist, but in certain circumstances, it goes out the window.

Darren:

Yeah. Well, I think it’s that dichotomy of they say people don’t like change, but we’re attracted to the new. We like the novelty and the interest of something new and yet, we don’t like change. It’s a contradiction, it’s a paradox.

Eaon:

That’s it. But in advertising, one of the things we used to say is what we do is make the new seem familiar and the familiar seem new. And so, to get that balance of novelty and familiarity, I guess that’s the perfect thing. If you can juggle that, that’s the perfect product for people.

Darren:

Exactly. Especially when you talk about … what’s the early adopters? The adoption curve-

Eaon:

Yeah, diffusion of innovations curve or something.

Darren:

And there’s no point going after early adopters because they are such a small group and they’ll move on to the next thing anyway. You want that big lump in the middle, which is where you make your money. And that businesses or brands that spend all their time being at the cutting edge, maybe being the leaders in their category but they’re never going to necessarily cash in big time.

Eaon:

I mean, one of the things I say … because a lot of my clients know that I’m independent or smaller businesses, and they all want to know — “How do we innovate in our category and everything?” I say, “Well, listen, it’s not your job to drive the category. So, just watch what’s going on, even in different categories and then follow that. Being a fast follower when you’re small is a great strategy because you’re letting the bigger people make the mistakes and then you can pick up the pieces and run with it after that.”

And even big retailers I’ve worked with, they deliberately … I’ve heard planners go in there and say, “You’re going to do this, and you’re going to be the first to ever do it.” And that’s just a great way to kill an idea.

Darren:

Well, I’ve written about that. One of the phrases I hate is “best practice” because when you put forward an idea that is perhaps new or different, and the very next question is, “What is best practice?” And you go, “Well, what do you mean?” Like, “Well, who else has done it?” They don’t actually mean best practice.

The phrase should be “common practice,” because I want the security of knowing that other people that I know, respect, and admire, have embraced this, then I’ll have the courage to actually try something different.

Eaon:

I had one of those when I was Director of Innovation.

Darren:

Sorry? Director of Innovation, what a great title.

Eaon:

From a sense. But that was a while ago in another agency. Part of my job was to bring new things to the attention of the rest of the people. And I would often get that question; “This is very interesting, this is fantastic. Do you have any examples of where it’s been done before?” I said, “Well, no, because it hasn’t been done.”

Darren:

It’s innovative.

Eaon:

It’s innovative. Yeah, it’s a new combination of things that haven’t been done. So, yeah.

Darren:

It’s a bit like the phrase that the advertising industry loves, the word “creativity.” Because some people try and equate creativity with innovation. When in actual fact, it’s probably more like creativity in the terms of the entertainment industry, isn’t it?

Eaon:

Yeah. As I said I think creativity and innovation are close cousins. But I guess the confusion in this business comes with confusing creativity in its purest sense with commercial creativity, which is supposed to have business outcomes.

So, if we have incorrect objectives, then the piece of creativity could be the most creative thing, exciting, entertaining. But if it doesn’t do things like give category cues and actually feature branding and be consistent with previous creativity, it’s not a piece of commercial creativity. It hasn’t done its job.

But I think maybe sort of alluding to it … because, in the second book, I followed two parallel kinds of narrative, which is looking at the history, tracing back through the history of modern art and post-modern art to the roots of that.

And we learned in the early 20th century with Marcel Duchamp you can trace that thread all the way through Warhol and Rauschenberg to a lot of the conceptual art of today.

But the lessons from that, that it’s taken over a hundred years for the advertising industry to catch up with that, conceptually what those artists were doing back in 1910, and they think they’ve invented something.

Darren:

Well, I do like the whole Warhol Burger King example. That by finding that piece of film of Andy Warhol eating a Whopper, and then turning that into a Super Bowl ad. And you said it was almost that because if they’d used it for a purpose that wasn’t its purpose.

Eaon:

Well, I think it’s a dialetheia, you call it, which it is what it is not, yet it also is what it is. Because when I first saw it, immediately it came up and I thought, “Oh my goodness, they’ve done it, they’ve done it.” But then they just spoiled it right at the end, because by putting the end frame on it and that silly hashtag, all of a sudden, it became an ad.

Darren:

And then they had like a consumer activation, didn’t they? With “film yourself looking like Andy.” You can just see the brand manager sitting there going, “Yeah, it’s good, but we need the people to do something so we know that they actually saw the ad.”

Eaon:

Well, that’s it. What I’m really hoping is that the agency, I’m really hoping that when they came in, they said, “Here’s what we’re doing for the Super Bowl; we’re just going to take this piece of film, we’re just going to run it. There’s going to be no inference, there’s going to be no call to action. There’s going to be nothing. And there’s just going to be such a dramatic Burger King statement that’s going to stand out from every other ad that’s trying not to be an ad that we’ve managed to be an ad and not an ad at the same time without playing their game.”

I mean, that would be how I would have solved it. So, I’m hoping that’s what the agency did. And then it got compromised by some 24-year-old in the Burger King marketing team that said, we must have some kind of Instagram integration.

Darren:

Well, social media is a hot topic, isn’t it? Every brand wants to have some sort of social media activation, Instagram or Facebook or something, almost as if to engage, to get that mental and physical availability, they have to have social media because that seems to be their only option.

Eaon:

Well, I think social media matured a little bit. I think some of the smarter brands and agencies are really understanding that if you put something out into the world, that acts as a sort of trigger for discussion, but it’s not ‘like if you love cheese’ or something, it’s-

Darren:

Something as prosaic as that.

Eaon:

And Burger King, I’m not sure if they’re trolling McDonald’s as a strategy, it gets a bit tiresome. But you can’t argue with the fact that it generates publicity within social media. And so, I compare it to the idea of the pseudo-event, which was an idea that was coined in the sixties about how news was generated particularly in politics.

The press releases would be announced and it wasn’t the fact that the things that were being announced were particularly important, but they were enough to catch the attention of news journalists.

So, I think people like Nike and Burger King understand that — and there’s a kind of hybrid PR advertising type approach because it’s so hard to reach people now. Though television, for instance, would still be a fantastic brand-building medium if there was anyone watching, particularly.

Darren:

There are people watching it, it’s just that they’re not necessarily the audience that marketers seem to think that they want.

I mean, yeah, against older groups, older demographics, the baby boomers still watch television. They may not watch as much as the previous generation who sat there in retirement doing nothing but watching television, but they’re watching. The trouble is that baby boomers also seem to have most of the money as that big population comes through and not the sweethearts of most advertisers.

Eaon:

I think the difficulty is though because it’s not the same people that watch television, but I think viewing is much more concentrated … there’s been a real double jeopardy effect of whether there are certain channels – the majority of the audience and certain programming within those channels. Because I know this is inventory that can be bought for next to nothing, but it’s because there’s no audience.

Darren:

Because there’s no one there.

Eaon:

But if you want to get in the big rating programs or the news or something, then you have to pay for that.

Darren:

And so, this is what I mentioned before, was this thing of, “Oh, well, TV doesn’t work, so we need to go to digital.” Well, yeah, TV works. You’ve just got to work harder at finding the programming, finding the environments that are going to index higher for your audience, because you don’t want to pay for the wastage.

But if your audience is in those programs and they’re doing X, and Y, and Z, this is where your channel planning comes from, it is actually knowing where they are and what they’re consuming more often than anyone else.

Eaon:

Because you know, the news is by far, particularly in the last year as well …I read some numbers that actual TV news viewing is actually one that is a huge growth thing at the moment because people get up in the morning; like how many people, how many new infections are there today?

So, I think in that hour of primetime news on Channel Nine or whatever, when you pay a premium to get in there. But if you can become the new story, then you get that audience by default. So, that’s why Mouldy Whoppers and Nike, whatever their latest controversy is, these are things that generate news.

There was a little catchphrase going about a couple of years ago, everything is PR. And I think definitely that’s more true than ever now.

Darren:

So, have you heard of outrage marketing?

Eaon:

No.

Darren:

Okay. So, it’s a new term. I discovered it by accident. I was googling the line and suddenly got outrage marketing. They used Nike’s Colin Kaepernick and Gillette as prime examples of brands deliberately taking a position on some sort of social issue, knowing that it will cause outrage in a percentage of people and hoping that their supporters, brand supporters will come to their defence.

So, it’s almost deliberately encouraging conflict on social media.

Eaon:

That’s the thing, but what it does is it generates publicity and there’s no such thing as bad publicity, I think. So, it’s kind of yeah, I think that’s part of a tactic to get reported on because if you can’t reach people through conventional advertising channels, even digital despite the promise of the ultimate direct marketing machine, like depending on what statistics you believe. But so much is riddled with fraud. So, you can’t really believe any of those numbers. And it’s a banner impression, which isn’t the same as something on a 55-inch screen.

Darren:

It’s sad because the old copywriters and art directors when I first got into advertising would say, “Ah, tricks, stunts and novelties.” The old skills of having a strategy and developing ideas and crafting copy and layout to attract attention have been replaced. But there’s still a need, isn’t there, for a very clear strategy?

Eaon:

Yeah, absolutely. But I mean, to be honest, what was it? Tricks?

Darren:

Stunts and novelties?

Eaon:

What’s wrong with that even today?

Yeah, I think, on the one hand, I’m bound to say this because the strategy is kind of what I do. I think it’s important. I think it gets over complicated as well. I think if I see another unique strategic development model, I will still use the JWT planning guide from 1976.

Darren:

Where are we? Why are we there? Where do we want to be?

Eaon:

Yeah, and how do we go there?

Darren:

I use that in my life.

Eaon:

So, there’s no need to reinvent those wheels. I think also, the other thing is the way that the idea of consumer insight has just become such a lot of waffle, just made up statements. I remember the last job that I did was in a media agency. And this is actually … if any youngster is listening to this, and often they’ll ask, “How am I going to break into advertising strategy and all that?”

And I say, “Well, the first thing you want to do, even if you want to end up in a creative agency, get a job in a media agency because the media agency will have a load of clients and there’ll be a different creative agency that serves each of those clients and you will get to see all of their material. So, that’s how you can just learn extra things on the job, just see what the rest of them do.”

But one thing that seems to be common throughout all of that is this idea of consumer insight. Those have just become completely nonsensical and just made up things. So, I guess, from … this is what I do – my business now is trying to help … I mean, I can help clients directly or agencies with that keeping it simple and having actual proper insights from human nature that are actionable. You can do something with it, not just made-up statements about time-poor mums, you know.

Darren:

They’ve become stereotypical cliches. So, one of the things (and going back to the book Shot By Both Sides) — you talk about it as being/not in the book, but there’s a piece written about it; bringing back connections.

And I find that really interesting because one of my favourite definitions of creativity is finding new connections that haven’t been found before. But what I like about the book is that there are historical connections and also, new ideas coming out of that or new ways of seeing things, new framing, I guess.

Is this the way you work? Have you found that this is almost the way your brain processes information, is looking for connections?

Eaon:

Definitely. I mean, one of the big sorts of revelation to me was realising that there’s nothing new under the sun. There are only new combinations. And essentially, that’s what creativity is. It’s noticing things and making connections between them. And the most creative people tend to be the ones that can make the most connections.

Well, it’s not in the book, but there was a thing, a guy David Hearn, you know David Hearn? I used to work with him, he used to use this story and always liked to … I didn’t put it in the book because I thought he would then claim it as his. But it’s a good story.

Darren:

A copyright issue.

Eaon:

Yeah, it’s a good story nonetheless. But he said that he was listening to Noel Gallagher, who was just talking about songwriting. And Noel Gallagher said basically, it’s like going to the river every day and fishing. And you have to turn up because that’s where the fish are, the ideas.

He said that he always regrets that one day he didn’t go fishing. And Chris Martin from Coldplay went to the river and hooked ‘Yellow’. And he said that wasn’t right, because that was an Oasis song that Chris Martin got.

And other people say that. I mean, in the books, I use lots of different pop culture references and stuff. That’s just my lens. And people like Bob Dylan and Neil Young as well, songwriters, they say that. They say the only talent they’ve got is being able to just open up a part of their mind and let the ideas drop in.

Darren:

It’s a very popular definition of creativity in all its forms. Some people say you have an antenna, that you get the signals. And it’s sometimes used to explain why one idea may suddenly appear in three or four different places. It’s almost like it’s an idea whose time has come.

Eaon:

That’s right. Whoever’s first to make the connection.

Darren:

But it also could be because the circumstances of those combinations bring about an alignment. One of the things I love is the study of complexity theory. You know, because we do live in a complex world. Anyone that thinks it is simple or complicated is fooling themselves.

Things are changing and they’re changing under so many different influences that combinations – and much like the kaleidoscope as a simple metaphor, suddenly, a pattern appears and everyone that’s looking for it goes, “There’s the pattern.”

Eaon:

I just read a book by a physicist called Brian Greene, it’s called The End of Time. And it contains a really big idea, I think there are not that many really big ideas in science or whatever lately. But it’s around entropy. He calls it the “entropic-two step” or something. But I’m going into physics, I can just see the audience like …

Darren:

Well, I have a science background, I’ve got a science degree. I worked in medical research, I love this stuff.

Eaon:

And it’s quite a dark book because it plots when the universe will actually end, and I think they found a point in time, but luckily, it’s in a couple of billion years, so-

Darren:

We’ll be beyond … we’ve probably walked ourselves out anyway.

Eaon:

And it’s tied to the idea of chaos. That actually patches of order just appear to be order, that any chaotic situation is bound to be stuff that looks like order. But that doesn’t mean it’s order. It’s just chaos that looks ordered.

And so, I guess, that’s a … the one sort of slogan that I occasionally have when talking about creativity and where ideas come from; it’s like cultivate randomness because the more randomness, the more random connections you make, some order will appear. It’s the monkeys and typewriters kind of thing.

Darren:

Well, and that’s what they say; the boundary between complexity and chaos as you move increasing entropy, more disorder. There’s this boundary where creativity is optimised because the randomness is optimised before it goes into complete chaos. Because in chaos, there is no ability for human beings to see patterns.

This is why we call it “chaos” because it’s beyond our comprehension. Even the authors that talk about the butterfly effect and things like that, they’re trying to make sense of chaos. But the reason we call it that is because we can’t make sense of it.

And look, I think it’s really important. I think that you might think that people don’t have an interest in this. But I think anyone that is using analysis creativity has to, at some point, want to understand the mechanism that underpins all this. In some ways, you would lack personal awareness if you didn’t want to understand why things work the way they do.

Eaon:

And in the first book, I seem to be critical of millennials or Gen Z or whatever. But I think it’s partly because that kind of inquiry has … they’re not being directed in the right place to look for answers. The internet has been great for so many things, but it has also been bad because it creates a level playing field for wrong information. And particularly, in marketing and advertising, because things have … there are so many gurus now and all that stuff is so easy for youngsters to get distracted by.

And then they come into agencies and because there’s boomers or Gen Xers that haven’t bothered to keep up, then they think that the stuff that the young people bring in, that they’ve read second and third hand off the internet, is the way to go. And it creates this kind of-

Darren:

Self-perpetuating misinformation.

Eaon:

I think it was a bit in the Shot by Both Sides book where, I never coined this, but somebody else did. But I’d done it after and I thought it was mine, which was the ‘bullshit industrial complex’. It’s just this machine that perpetuates – that you get first, second and third level gurus each repeating the stuff from the other way, and it just becomes this spiral of crap.

Darren:

Well, and they do build communities. Gary V has his community that follow his philosophies and Byron Sharp’s got his community, and Mark Ritson’s got his community. It’s no different to people having all these followers. I think the problem is that we forgot about critical thinking.

Eaon:

That’s right. And to be honest, because Gary V… it’s quite fashionable to have a pop at him. But, I think culturally, we’re in Melbourne, we’re not in New Jersey. But that said, he’s like straight off that’s how you survive.

But I don’t have any problem with him because who’s the real fool? He’s got Vayner Media right across the world and everything, so he’s doing something right. But it’s the people that parrot his stuff second and third hand, that’s where the problem is.

Darren:

But I think it’s also the problem that yes, there’s these let’s call them schools of thought. I’m not sure they’re schools because one of my favorite quotes is, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one, but we all think each other’s stinks.” That’s actually the end of that quote.

But people are inclined to jump on to one and think that that is the answer to everything. I think marketing and advertising suffers a little bit like from in physics, they are looking for the great unifying theory of the universe, the one theory that will explain every phenomena.

In marketing and advertising, I think there’s a desire to find the one strategy that works for every brand, is it Gary V; should I be doing everything on Facebook and with videos? Is it Byron Sharp – I made television on regular updates or is it Mark Ritson segmentation and customer insight-driven marketing? Which one should it be? And why can’t you as a strategist tell me which one’s the right one?

Eaon:

Well, it could be a combination of any number of those things. I think that Byron Sharp stuff, I think that’s another thing that’s greatly misunderstood. I think because all the way through that, they don’t make any great sort of claims about this particular media or that particular-

Darren:

No, I meant it from the popular interpretation of whatever. But he does say you need to be constantly in the marketplace targeted against your light users.

Eaon:

Category buyers.

Darren:

Yeah, category buyers. Because there’s no point marketing to your heavy users, they’re going to buy anyway.

Eaon:

Because they’re going to buy.

Darren:

And how much more can they buy?

Eaon:

Of course, and the other thing is … because there are new people coming in, particularly in the FMCG category — there are new people coming into the category all the time and there are people falling out. So, it’s like a continuous cycle, but it’s funny this is the thing that comes up every time a digital economy brand starts advertising on TV.

People come out and go, “Aha, you see, TV.” But part of what that does for Tik Tok, for instance, they know very well, the point of that is just to say to people, “Hey, look, you’ve heard of us, but we are actually a big stable, reputable company now. Because look at the amount of money we can afford to throw down in this big TV campaign that we know is not really going to bring us any users.” It just brings them credibility in the marketplace because it’s sort of a conspicuous waste and everyone’s done it before them.

I remember a few years ago, I was sitting at this breakfast seminar thing that was run by Pandora when they were still in this country and Spotify. And this was for media people, media buyers, and planners. I’m sitting there and they’ve got this big, long lecture about the precision targeting qualities of their platform. And it was all very interesting.

And at the end, this woman spoke up and she’d just sat there at the back. Didn’t look particularly trendy or like a media type. She just put her hand up and she said “I wonder if Pandora and Spotify can tell us what they’re doing to build their brand.” And without, of course, blinking an eye, they said, “Oh, well, actually, we’re doing it in-store regularly with Woolworths. And we’ve partnered for outdoor advertising, with this Telco …”

And that was the thing. So, that’s it. The future of digital is out-of-home.

Darren:

Well, there was a recent … I love Freakonomics. I just love the challenge, the way they challenge the conventional wisdom, the appeals to the iconic class. But there was a recent episode; episode 440 and 441, does advertising actually work.

Eaon:

I listened to those. I ended up in an argument with them on Twitter to be honest, with the Freakonomics people.

Darren:

And I saw a big, long discussion chain of people challenging them. But I love the fact that they’re willing to challenge people because in that, to the very first point or the early point that we started talking about – to get people to actually question and let go of what they’ve always done until there is evidence that it’s actually working.

Eaon:

Yeah. But then, with Freakonomics, it was slightly a circular argument because I bet they gained many, many subscribers because of being able to reach a new part of the audience … so those people in advertising that maybe didn’t know much about them, but all of a sudden, everyone’s listening now. And it was kind of coming back to what we were talking about earlier on about outrage marketing, that’s exactly what they were doing.

Darren:

And it was the second episode of the podcast. And the example that I really thought hit home was the guy saying E-bay buying E-bay as a search term is a flawed strategy. And yet they’d been doing it for a long time. And I’m sure that there are lots of advertisers out there that are buying their own brand. Even though if they’ve set themselves up on their SEO, it’s going to be at the top anyway.

Eaon:

But this is Google being crafty because they’ll allow competing brands to bid against brand names. So, if you don’t buy your own branded search terms, then a competitor will buy yours and they’ll appear above yours. So, the only one that wins is Google.

Darren:

Except that if you’ve set yourself up properly, the company will get a panel on the right side, so the ads are just on the left. So, you can own the back … well, what I’m saying is there are strategies that people should be implementing if this is important to them.

I mean, that’s the other thing; one of the biggest issues, and I’d be interested in your thoughts – but fear of missing out (FOMO) seems to have a huge impact on marketing and advertising when it comes to strategy.

Eaon:

It’s a bit like whenever, a few years ago, whenever there was some new technology platform, there was always a race between all of the various social media experts to see who could be the first to write a book about it like Google Plus or something.

And again, with some brands, it’s whether their strategy is to follow or to want to be the first. So, I think I would generally say unless you’re Coca-Cola, and you can splash around a test and learn budget that’s 10 times of a competitor’s total budget, then it’s probably better to wait and see.

But just coming back to the Freakonomics thing for me, because I think there’s definitely some merit in the argument (and this is the sort of Byron Sharp argument), that search is not advertising anyway. It’s physical availability and shelf space because someone’s in the mind, some trigger has already happened that they’re purchasing from the mind and then they go and search.

So, if you take that point of view, then Freakonomics, saying, well, advertising doesn’t work because of all of this report on how search behavior works, but it’s not advertising. So, it’s something else, maybe something else doesn’t work, but it’s not advertising you’re talking about, it’s something else.

Darren:

Well, and it is Field and Binet now saying that search is actually a good measure of a brand’s saliency in the marketplace. That when you see search terms for your brand go up, it means that you’re owning more of that available space.

Eaon:

Exactly. I mean, they’ve codified that, anyone listening to this in Media agencies will know that that’s something that’s been well known as a proxy for a long time if you don’t have the available data. Just as a rule of thumb, you can just compare category search terms, and that gives you an idea of where they sit in the category.

So, that’s kind of been well-known for a while. But they’ve built some more stuff around it.

Darren:

And we’ve run out of time, unfortunately, it’s gone so quickly. I just want to cover off. So, I absolutely recommend people get your books. The first one is Where Did It All Go Wrong? And the second one is Shot by Both Sides, but you’ve got another book coming out.

Eaon:

Yes, it is finished. I decided not to release it this year just because it’s not the greatest year to … so yeah, it’s called If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go from the Curtis Mayfield song. And it’s further adventures at the Dunning-Kruger peak of advertising. So, it’s a kind of follow-up to book one.

So, if you enjoyed that one, then it’s similar in nature. So, lots of punk rock, psychology, philosophy in advertising and self-deprecating stuff.

Darren:

So, more of what we love.

Eaon:

Yeah, and for people who like obscure musings on the post-modern art, then the second book, that’s the one for you.

Darren:

So, look, thank you very much for making time to catch up. I’ve really appreciated the conversation.

Eaon:

Me too, thanks very much.

Darren:

I want to ask you a personal question – you do make the statement somewhere that when you were a creative director, you realised that you weren’t going to be a great creative director. Is there something that particularly made that realisation hit you?

Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media, and commercial communications professionals, Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by Darren Woolley and special guests. Find all the episodes here

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Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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