The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Puppy Dog Eyes + 70’s AOR Music = Weapon Of Mass Destruction?
January 6, 2010, 6:43 am
Filed under: Comment

For those sad enough to ‘follow’ me on Twitter or Facebook … you may of already seen this … however as I assume any interaction with me is a byproduct of [1] an accident and/or [2] a science experiment, I doubt it.

Anyway, on New Years Eve, my Mum sent me a clip that represents the sort of sweetness that Walt Disney would have sold his left bollock for …

Now this post isn’t going to talk about how we should be inspired by ‘opposing animal love’ and put aside our differences to work towards a better planet … it’s not even going to bore you rigid about what cute/stupid/annoying shit my cat does on a daily basis – it’s simply to point out that if you watched the above [albeit cute] clip without any sound, I would guess whatever emotional impact you experienced, would be lessened … and I would guess those of you who have pets [or have always wanted pets] would have felt an even deeper connection to the clip – which leads me to the question that if a woman with 2 perverted pets, a video camera and an alarming lack of musical taste can produce a clip that makes you smile and feel warm inside, why the hell can’t clients and agencies with their multi-million dollar budgets and experience?

I’m willing to take a stab at the answer and that is that they’ve forgotten to include the ‘human’ element into what they’ve been doing … preferring to either focus on ‘marketing truths’, some outdated and poorly executed ‘focus group’ research and/or an obsession with pleasing their peers, not their audience.

I remember years ago we were asked to help a big telco drive greater customer acquisition through their comms strategy. Without boring you stupid, of the many things that we came up with – there was one that we thought merited greater exploration – and that was the percentage of their customers that owned, or adored animals.

The reason for this was that for the past 6 years, their communication had used animals as the core talent in all their executions and our hypothesis was that on top of things like distribution, special offers, phone launches – their ad style was resulting in attracting a disproportionate amount of animal lovers to their network.

Well guess what – via an independent and fairly substantial research study – we were proved right and yet, when we suggested their strategy should include encouraging greater pet ownership across the country [in association with the RSPCA equivalent] rather than just relying on ridiculously expensive and overly commoditised phone/network deals and communication, we were kicked out and basically told never to darken their door again.

That still bugs the crap out of me because apart from us having some lovely ideas to make it work – we still think the idea underpinning it is solid, but I guess given we weren’t called Clotaire Rapaille, I guess we were seen as freaks, not fortune makers.

The French fuck the Brits again. Bastards.

I’ve banged on for years how I believe that for adland to regain their true commercial value, they need to be acknowledged as the people who understands, engages and intrigues society better than anyone else [rather than the current business view that we simply ‘make ads’ … and often, just self-serving ones at that] – however with so much emphasis on pleasing the marketing director rather than the CEO, I doubt that is a view that will fundamentally change anytime soon.

One of the best things I’ve ever read about marketing from a human emotional need rather than a rational marketing need is a chapter in Cliff Havener’s ‘The Secret To Being Alive’.

I literally spent 10 years trying to get a copy of his book – and while it is good – it’s nothing compared to that single chapter and now I am an animal owner, I realise what Cliff was doing back in the 60’s was even more powerful and insightful than I originally thought.

There’s nothing too mind blowing in it – it’s all quite simple really, especially when you understand the needs/wants/fears and desires of that specific segment in society – however with so much marketing focused on understanding the category rather than the culture it operates in, it’s little surprise that so few brands have seemingly infiltrated the wider echelons of society and made a deep and meaningful emotional connection with them.

Anyway you can read it for yourself because that key chapter can be downloaded here.

Right, that’s enough ranting for now – it’s still early in 2010 – however if you are still swept up in the emotion of the little dog and cat clip, don’t be … the little dog is a pussy obsessed whore as you can see for yourself by clicking here.

24 Comments so far
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well at least its an improvement on your fucking previous posts and you slag off optus for their singaporean, late paying conservatism so i will give you a pass on this post. by the skin of your fucking teeth.

Comment by andy@cynic

Great post about the power of emotion, genuine insight and creative strategy. Driving pet ownership was an inspired idea but aren’t optus Australian, not Singaporean?

Comment by Pete

are you questioning my fucking genius pete?

Comment by andy@cynic

No one would ever do that Andy … at least not to your face, ha!

Thanks for the nice words guys – first of the year – and to answer your question Pete, Optus are an Australian telco however they are owned by Singtel – Singapore’s largest telco company.

Oh, and the agency we had to work with/against when developing this creative strategy for Optus, was our dear friends at M&C Sydney … who, as I am sure you can imagine, I don’t have much to do with, despite the companies involvement with Sunshine, ha!

Comment by Rob

Why did it take you ten years to get the book? It’s on amazon – everyone knows that.

Comment by John

An interesting, insightful and thought provoking post today Robert. I hope 2010 is full of them.

Best wishes for the year ahead to everyone.

Comment by Lee Hill

I’m glad you said that Lee because I know what we’re presenting to you in 2 weeks, ha!

And John, it took me 10 years because Amazon didn’t exist when I first started looking for it and the book was out of print till about ’99 hence I had to resemble that character from the old Yellow Pages ads, knocking on booksellers doors till I finally found it. Happy now? Ha.

Comment by Rob

You should make the CEOs, of all the companies whos marketing directors rejected your ideas, read this blog and come for a public debate.

Comment by bhaskar

That’s a nice thought Bhaskar – but for me, the best form of revenge is helping their competitors do stuff that scares the living bejesus out of them and their shareholders.

Comment by Rob

I remember when we were working on that telco project and you suggested the brand might attract a higher proportion of animal lovers and I thought you were mad.

They might not have gone with the idea but you managed to convince them to drop big dollars on researching it so you must count that as some sort of result.

By the way I now think it’s one of the coolest strats I’ve heard. Cool post.

Comment by Bazza

Could u eleborate on the thought process behind the animal idea? Was it a hunch or internal data or….?

Seeing as Bazza writes that the initial idea was strong enough to get researched, I would like to hear those boring parts u omitted to create room to piss on the French.

Comment by Niko

You thought I was mad did you Baz?

You kept that very quiet … I’d call you a wimp but I want a free iSlate. I will be getting one won’t I? I’ll swap you for a Nexus. 🙂

To be honest Niko, I can’t remember all the details – the doco will be around somewhere – however I do know that when we looked at their data and research, the animals from their ads were highly recalled and when we did some exploration into this, we found the language used to describe the behaviour/look of the animals in the communication was much more emotive, thought-out and articulate than both general advertising, telco’s and the Optus mobile service.

I think that’s when I started to think there was something quite interesting in the relationship between animal and customer – far more than just being a brand icon – but I could be letting my brain fool me.

I’ll ask Terri to did out the file and see if there’s any ‘boring bits’ that might be of interest to you – otherwise just email me and we can discuss anything about it away from the maddening crowd, ha!

Comment by Rob

Identifying a third party something (in this case pets) that the customer and the provider can share is a good way of appealing to emotion. My problem with it is how do you own it. Maybe I’m getting too strategic here, but doesn’t the sustaionable competitive advantage of this approach last as long as it takes a competitor to copy or best it?

Comment by John

I know what you mean John but I have an issue with any brand claiming they can ‘own’ something. I know I’m being pedantic – however there’s too many marketing people who come out with statements like that and actually believe it can happen … with my favourite being a Coke meeting in Atlanta many years ago where I was told “we want to own freedom”. Classic.

Whilst the strat was to encourage pet ownership so the emotional bond that would develop could possibly be transfered to the telco via their animal based ads – we had ideas that made this have greater relevance, appeal and longevity to the Australian mobile market as a whole.

And whilst I appreciate it could be copied by a competitor, I would say the cost to do this given the brands ‘by-association’ credibility with animals, their distribution network, their network/innovation and our proposed injection of more developed ‘brand voice’ into their comms would mean it would be hard for a brand to justify &/or achieve – at least in the short term.

By no means were we suggesting they just do this and then sit back and enjoy the influx of animal loving customers – however the telco category is one bereft of emotion, meaning and human elements [which is strange given they are the things that make their product ‘work’] and so we felt as a foundation, it was interesting – especially as evidence pointed to this already being a driving force to customer aquisition.

At the end of the day, anything can be copied – it’s how you create and why you create that can make the difference … which is why Apple could talk about a product they had no heritage in making and was still not due for 6 months and yet effect the share price of the 4 major mobile manufacturers.

Comment by Rob

Agree entirely, should have used “” around own as you did. Hence my wondering if I was being too strategic. You can own patents and experience curve advantage, it’s much harder to own differentiation.

Comment by John

My previous comment published instantly! I have to go and lie down now.

Comment by John

You didn’t go to spam!!!

WTF … I paid good money for that filter and now it lets you reach the people with ease.

Luckily only 5 people read this blog and they’re all individuals who you wouldn’t want to meet in a well-lit alley, let alone a dark one.

And as for your initial comment … it was nice to use the John Dodds Pedantic Responder [copyright JD Industries] against you. Ha.

Comment by Rob

You’re learning.

Comment by John

fuck me now dodds is being nice to him. what has campbell put in the water.

Comment by andy@cynic

Why haven’t any of you clever hunky guys said how cute the puppy and cat couple are? They’re totally yummy and worth much more attention than your silly business talk. 🙂
Happy 2010.
Jemma x

Comment by Jemma King

theyre all fucking neanderthals jem. i noticed but didnt want to intimidate the knuckle dragging brutes with my higher powers. men get fucked on enough without their own making them feel even shitter.

Comment by andy@cynic

There are too many comments for me to add anything of value so I won’t try.
By the way, I am neither clever nor hunky, perhaps that’s why I find the animals cute.
Speaking if cute, my baby now laughs, so bollocks to your animals anyway

Comment by northern

spoken like a new dad.

enjoy the laughter while you can northern, when he starts laughing at you and rolling his eyes in disgust whenever you walk into the room it loses some of its fucking charm.

Comment by andy@cynic

OMG it’s so adorable!

Comment by May

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