by Renaud Timson

It seems every publication that deals with advertising has a column written by some big agency Creative Director expounding his or her theory on how and why advertising works. The reasons come rushing forth in a torrent of statistics, facts, and other assorted tidbits of market research. Put them all together in a creative package promoting the client's product or service, and there's no reason why the ad won't work. Is there?

The corporate agency marketing/research/media analyst bigwigs, backed up by volumes of "research," have "created" a formula for advertising that should guarantee results. (They have the research to prove it.) But there's one thing they haven't taken into account: people are fickle. Just when you think you've got people pegged, zingo! They turn around and do something else! (A few refer to this phenomenon as "spontaneity.") Yeah, sure. Adzecs say they have factored that possibility into their advertising equation, but c'mon! That's crazy! (I was going to write that's ludicrous, but I changed my mind at the last minute.) I'm sure Jackson Pollock didn't use any market research while running across his canvas creating a new painting. "Let's see... fifty-seven percent of the people preferred [splash] red paint squigglies over yellow paint squigglies, so therefore... [splash]."

Advertisers have taken all the guess work out of advertising. The creative concept has to match the data. You're using the right side of your gray matter (the wango side) to come up with an idea, and then you use the left side (the rational side) to explain why and how exactly you are utilizing this particular stratagem. While there's no arguing that you need a base of information, you can't tell me that a commercial showing a person petting a little puppy while he's talking about hemorrhoids is going to make me rush out and buy brand "X" because that person stroking the cute little barker must be a nice guy cuz he cares about animals, therefore is health conscious, environmentally aware, and people like that don't lie about hemorrhoids. Not to mention that the music in the background has been specifically chosen to increase only positive thoughts about your rectal region.

Advertising should be fun, fun, fun! The creative process should be play time. Bring out the nerf golf set. Make car sounds. Go nuts! Who cares if it sells the product? Well, let's not get carried away. Remember, you can't judge what the Joe and Joan Public are always gonna do. So, lighten up! Don't take your ad too seriously. (I can hear those adzecs rippin' up my resume' now!) What's wrong with using an idea because... well, just because! But hey! What about the research? What about the data? What about the "formula?" Well, we're all guilty of using it sometimes. All I'm saying is, let's use it less and try different approaches.

It's kinda like this: let's say you wanna use the front door to get inside your house. Everybody uses the way they know best. Next time, try coming in through the kitchen window, the basement, up the drainpipe, through the master bedroom. It's the same with an idea. Sometimes you have to come at it from a different angle.

I remember when a fact sheet came across my desk for The Dancing Mermaid Restaurant. Great, another restaurant. Rather than looking at it head on, I just twisted it a bit, and wango! Out came a spot that sounded different. The client liked it (whew!), and it worked like gangbusters for him. I used the same process for an Indoor Mini Golf commercial we did. For this one, I used a rather silly King Arthur bit to promote the establishment. What does King Arthur have to do with mini-putting? Oh... nothing. So? The spot came out great, people went to play Indoor Mini Golf, and everybody lived happily ever after. Why make it complicated?

Well, now that I've exposed MY theory on advertising and blown any possible chance of working for a big agency, I'll just keep looking at things differently and continue to rebel.

C'mon, writers of the world, let's all stand up and make car noises together! When you come up with a Kreative Koncept, don't analyze it before, during, and after. Just do it! (Hey, that could be a good slogan... nah, it'll never work.) Have fun and run with an idea because it sounds different, neat, and wango, not because it correlates well with the latest pie chart lab reports on the sub-demo-graphic response to subconscious stimuli! Get and idea and run with it. It works... according to my research. Of course, what do I know? I'm just a copywriter at a radio station.