A view from the top
Busy Monday. New-business creds meeting followed by an easyJet internal, then O2, then Hiscox.
Super Bowl ad party in reception and then to Christie’s for its impressionist exhibition. Out again on Tuesday evening, at The Foundation’s control v chaos forum organised by Charlie Dawson at the Wayra Academy. The first speaker was Niall Murphy, who made the astute point that all entrepreneurs "search for the inevitable". In his case, the inevitable was Wi-Fi, which is why he went on to create The Cloud and sell it for millions.
When we set up VCCP in 2002, we thought multimedia, multichannel integration was an inevitability and designed an agency accordingly. Some would say the inevitable has happened; I would say it has only just begun.
The problem with capitalism is that it is always shifting under your feet – new inevitabilities spring up out of nowhere. One of these is triggered by the rise of big data. An e-mail from Jed Hallam pings into my inbox announcing the publication of an essay by Karl Heiselman (the chief executive of Wolff Olins) that argues, by 2020, advertising "will become a transactional tool" and that "an intense focus on advertising ROI will create a hyper-aggressive transactions-focused battlefield". This doesn’t entirely sound like a barrel of laughs.
Highlight of Wednesday is seeing Sally, Shadi, Kat and Will for a creative presentation followed by Philippa, Carolyn, Amanda and the rest of the Big Bounce committee as we plan the Breakthrough event for 9 October at the Roundhouse (have you booked your table yet?).
Thursday evening out drinking with fellow VCCP planners. We decide that Mr Heiselman is only half-right. Our profession is not quite ready to be replaced by some underground data server in an Arizona desert.
However you want to define it – demand, desire, affinity, consideration – the gold standard for any brand is for customers to be actively predisposed in their favour. And you won’t get this by nagging them with data-driven BOGOFs, double points and pattern-recognition techniques. You’ll only create desire by using charm, wit, imagination, aesthetics and personality. Like it or not, the old-fashioned TV ad is still about the best vehicle you’ll find for doing this. Thus our continued fascination with Super Bowl ads, thus the refusal of TV advertising to wilt under the pressure of personal video recorders and on-demand viewing (for more details, see Tess Alps).
I spend Friday in Madrid with Telefónica discussing, among various things, its next range of entertainment initiatives. I recall an essay in the Harvard Business Review years ago that concluded, one day, every brand will be an entertainment brand. It was based on the simple premise that, all things being equal, customers prefer to be interested rather than bored. The danger with big data is that it can turn your brand into a bore. To avoid this, I’d recommend a simple rule of thumb: as frequently as you ask a customer to buy you, you should do something to make them desire you.
I spy George Clooney from afar at Asprey’s Bafta party on Saturday. Sunday is spent putting the finishing touches to a book I’ve co-authored (called The Branded Gentry), a fruitless search for skiing clobber, and willing Robshaw on to victory.
Charles Vallance is a founding partner of VCCP
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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