It’s my 42nd year in the profession I know as ‘ Marketing‘. I love it as much as I ever have – maybe more? It’s a profession which comes replete with human frailties, wild ideas, emotions, good and bad, disturbing and joyful. It is a variable smorgasbord of knowledge, a varietal delight of products and services all bound up in interpretation, philosophy and the inevitable debate, discussion – passion even. It is an exciting place to be.
For me it is the human element which most intrigues me. I am enchanted by the concept of behaviour and how we perform like actors engaged in the ultimate play. Of course most people call this life, but the major difference in our profession is we get to replicate it so as to communicate commercial messages. Some will say ‘humbug’, that this is all advertising ‘bullshit’. Be dismissive if you wish but the truth is that 99% of excellent advertising is simply a replication, admittingly exaggerated, but none the less an imitation, of real life. Sometimes it is comedic, sometimes its sad, it can be dramatic or reflective but whatever it is, it’s a simple mirror of life.
Why then pray, does it deserve so much attention? The answer of course lies in the development of concepts which expose the market to the product or service. Communication that does not replicate real life simply does not cut the mustard. Marketing is about sending messages and creating strategic planning to expose the merchandise to people, no matter what the merchandise may be. I believe people are best approached with a mirror. As marketers we want the consumer to look into the mirror and in our message see themselves. It’s important because today, millions of dollars are being flushed down the pan with junk marketing that simply doesn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of success. So here’s the big tip – Get back to the basics.
Study people and their idiosyncratic perceptions; observe their behaviour wherever you are. Become a ‘Human Engineer’ and you’ll write the strategies; create the concepts; mould the copy; paint the pictures and build the performance that is worthy of reaching a marketplace tired of the pathetic efforts of amateurs who will never know the difference between a pork sausage and a stick of dynamite. It’s about people and I’m glad it’s that way because people are the most interesting; trying; frustrating; exciting and humorous creatures that ever graced the earth.
When I get copy block I always retreat to the same place in my mind. A hospital bed at Shenton Park in Perth where I spent 6 months of my life. A place full of drama, joy, pain and angelic giving. A place where people didn’t need to put on airs and graces, where the base thoughts were about existence and its joys not bravardo. A place where people did not need to impress, rather they wanted to live what was real to them. I learned a valuable lesson in those months. If ever you want to truly communicate, turn first to your heart and see people as they really are. Vulnerable, exposed and powerfully human. From there it’s easy to build a bridge to the marketing communication because without the bullshit, the message relates on a level which most humans know exists but can’t always arrive at because their too busy performing for others. Yet inside the mind there exists a quiet place where we can’t hide and when we, as advertising men reach that place, we create moments where people see themselves as a genuine participant in resolution and if you’re lucky they’ll take your product and service with them. Powerful and Real!