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

Advertisings New Clothes …
October 25, 2010, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

I must admit I am getting a bit sick to the back teeth of hearing how storytelling is the way to go for effective and interesting advertising.

It’s not that I don’t disagree [though some people’s view of what’s needed defies belief. Not to mention many clients budgets] it’s just that the value of storytelling is hardly a new concept.

Even though when the bible was actually written is open for debate, we know it’s pretty bloody old and they were using storytelling to sell stuff before David Ogilvy was even a twinkle in David Ogilvy’s Dad’s eye so can we stop talking like we fucking invented the concept because not only were brands doing it 20, 30, 40 years ago … we look like a bunch of out-of-touch, deluded or egomaniac idiots to the rest of the World.

I’ll go and lie down now.

52 Comments so far
Leave a comment

nice campbell, very fucking nice. and for once i find myself nodding in afuckingreement with you. very fucking scary.

another adland trend thats as old as keef fucking richard looks, repackaged to sound like the newest greatest thing by people so fucking far removed from reality they think minority report was a fucking documentary.

and yet some of the twats still call digital, new fucking media and expect clients to be overfuckingwhelmed when they say theyre their to help sell their shit. cocks.

good post campbell. should add another set of enemies to your growing list of loathers. if you ever get murdered, the cops will need 700 years just to go through the list of people who had a motive to kill you. id be on the list as well but for the past few days evil bastard posts, i might of fallen a few places.

Comment by andy@cynic

It scares me much more when you find yourself nodding with something I’ve said than vice versa, let me reassure you.

And yes, the “new media” thing drives me nuts too. But then I think NYC should be called YC by now, ha.

Comment by Rob


Comment by andy@cynic

700 years to go through all the people who would have a motive to kill me? Apart from making me feel special, there’s a potential movie remake in it … “Murder on the advertising express”.

Comment by Rob


Now while I know that you probably talking to global advertising pps on a weekly basis, so can probably refute this pretty quickly, are you sure it’s not just a by product of you being in China?

I say that as:
– China’s ad industry is relatively young and the market relatively saturated, meaning that previously if you want to shift product all you needed was a good looking picture and a lot of media spend i.e. no storytelling needed

– It’s been a ‘standard meme for at least 5 years now saying that Chinese companies can’t build brands’ Brands = Storytelling

– Even McKinsey reports are saying that Chinese consumers ‘are gradually shifting their focus from basic product attributes toward more subtle features such as design or innovative features’ Features that need better branding/storytelling…

Comment by Patrick

read some of the blogs of adlands self proclaimed fucking rockstars or some of the trash thats printed in the so called industry global newsrags and youll see what campbell is pointing the finger at isnt just a china thing at fucking all. at least fucking china has some excuses for rehashing old fucking info for the reasons you say but the rest of the fucking world doesnt.

adlands watch for being topical is running about 3 years slow.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hi there – I agree with Andy – if China was the only one guilty of this attitude then I’d feel less pissed off for the reasons you state in your comment.

That doesn’t mean I’d let them off the hook – the attitude that China is an “immature market” still gets my goat because it’s not really that immature and when you take into account all the things it’s given the World … things we take for granted and form, in some cases, the backbone of how communication exists in the first place … it’s pretty fucking clever.

Still, in ad agency terms, it’s less sophisticated than say the UK, so there’d be a little leeway, however what I’m talking about is a global thing – infact, some of the biggest culprits are the people in the regions and agencies that quite frankly should know better than to churn out this 3rd hand ‘insight’.

For example, when someone said “architecture can be the embodiment of branding” I cringed.

Not just because it’s hardly a fucking new view [architects been saying that sort of shit for years, plus it’s been the basis for a whole host of iconic architectures creation all over the World over … stuff that was built even before David Ogilvy’s Dad’s, Dad’s, Dad was a twinkle in his Dad’s eye] but because I saw a bunch of adland fawning over it as if it had come from Einstein’s own mouth.

There are some clever people in adland – people who genuinely bring new perspectives on things new and old – but sadly I hear and see far more interesting and well thought out principals of thought coming from people outside the industry … not because those companies are willing to pay them more, but because they attract people who want to create history not just rehash it.

Comment by Rob

This is a very timely post Robert for reasons you are as of yet, unaware of.

Due to my advanced years, I remember when advertising professionals would tell their clients valuable information they didn’t know or hadn’t yet realised. Now they come in with advertisements based on information the clients did know, had realised and often had been the source of the information in first place.

This situation is not limited to just China Patrick.

Comment by Lee Hill

campbells reignited evil fuck spirit seems contagious. fucking excellent and a good call lee. now give me the goss, i fancy a good fucking bitch.

Comment by andy@cynic

Gossip, dog or Gene Simmons castoff?

Comment by Billy Whizz

if theyre on offer ill take all fucking 3. except the dog.

Comment by andy@cynic

Sums up one of the key things I think is wrong with adland Lee …

We should be the experts on knowing what’s going on in people and societies hearts & minds … know what they want / l love / fear / hate / desire … and then have the ability to use that information so we can turn it into motivation for our clients commercial interests to be met [because we can marry their needs to the individuals/societies needs we’ve identified] … however it seems that too often, we are focusing our attention on writing ads – often based on a set of circumstances or ‘insights’ created to justify the ad we want to make.

Makes me sick to be honest, but then you know that.

Now can I have the goss as well please???

Comment by Rob

The emperors new open heart surgery judging by that scar tissue on his chest.

Comment by Charles

Could be a tatt?

Comment by Rob

or a piercing.

fuck, it could be billy.

Comment by andy@cynic

Wrote a post with basically the same sentiment yesterday. The only difference being that I’m pro ‘storytelling’. Just not pretending it’s anything new.

Comment by Andy

[…] Seems like Rob Campbell was thinking about the same thing over the weekend. Share this […]

Pingback by Pity The Cool » Blog Archive » Transmedia: Time To Think About The Past

Ewwww, I hate agreeing with you. I feel so dirty.

Comment by Angus

Wonder if adland is taking the fun out of story telling, with all the boring stuff being produced, while claming there is a story behind it !

Comment by Bhaskar

Great post Rob. Your point of what some agencies claim needs to be done (and spent) to make a story effective is especially pertinent in these days where effectiveness is once again under the spotlight.

Comment by Pete

What I find remarkable is how they managed to convince everybody (themselves?) that “story-tellers” can’t do digital and vice-versa.

Comment by rafik

Didn’t they invent the internet?

Comment by DH

I had a rant about the same thing a couple of weeks ago. I saw a short video of 2 industry “rock stars” where the word popped up and I was forced to break something.

There are two things getting me mightily pissed off right now and this is one of them; the other is the rise of the word transmedia.

Comment by The Kaiser

I feel the same way. And those two things are actually one and the same 😉

Comment by Andy

No, they are not.

Comment by The Kaiser

Correction. Storytelling is critical to transmedia.

Comment by Andy

Transmedia … oh my god, don’t get me started … that expression [which I swear to god most people don’t actually know what it means] pisses me off.

Again, it’s not that I don’t agree with the thinking behind it, it’s just that like storytelling – it’s adoption and acceptance by adland often bears no resemblance to the issues, needs or budgets of the client … it’s just a standard response [or term] because that’s what the “cool” people say it should be.

To be fair though, it doesn’t piss me off as much as the word “BOOM” – which has seemingly entered the advertising lexicon.

More evidence adland are a bunch of fucking frat muppets.

Comment by Rob

Bloody hell, Andy stands corrected well played Marcus.
This is a very good post. Amidst transmedia, storytelling and such lies ‘brand as verb’ and ‘brand as conversation’ – while it’s possibly new to be able to develop quicker and a little more in tune with what’s going on, all that’s changed there is velocity.
Crap stuff that’s fired at people used to get away with saturation, the only difference is that it’s much harder to get away with being useless

Comment by northern

Could you please explain exactly what you mean here…? “Crap stuff that’s fired at people used to get away with saturation, the only difference is that it’s much harder to get away with being useless”

Comment by Andy

Different Andy Northern.

Comment by The Kaiser

Badly written…bad ‘messaging’ ads used to succeed by bludgeoning people into recall and action, great was always more effective, especially over longer term….but now the realtionship is a little more 2 way, useless work struggles more, unless you have truly titanic budgets.
Now, as always, work people talk about it more commercially effective, only more so – the rules haven’t shifted, they’ve been emphasised, only the tools have changed a little

Comment by northern

Cheers. Makes sense 🙂

Comment by Andy

What fucks me off is the amount of people who throw these terms into conversation because certain ‘rockstars’ have thrown them into conversation.

I’m not saying ‘rockstars’ are full of shit – they’re not – but neither are they always right and for an industry discipline that claims to be curious, it never fails to amaze me how few people question or challenge the thinking.

Of course they probably don’t because they’re worried [1] they’ll look stupid or [2] alienate a future boss … but asking questions isn’t being disrespectful, as far as I am concerned, NOT asking is more disrespectful.

Comment by Rob

Please don’t get me going about rockstars, please.
On another note, the rockstars tend to talk about what they think works for big brands with big budgets and a relatively large amount of time….spending lots of money wisely in other words. That’s not what most of us do day in, day out, nor should it be what the ones who are planning for massive budgets think about either..role for comms should be what comminications can achieve when you’ve take care of everything else, but, let’s be honest, rarely is.
In other words, think small.

Comment by northern

Excellent point Northern …

The thing I loved at HHCL was we believed we could make small budgets work like big budgets – so whilst we always wanted to do great things, the goal wasn’t to suck money out of clients but to blow great results into their organisation.

I have nothing against the rockstar planners personally – though I am vehemently opposed to that term – but I have a massive issue in how they’re being put on a pedestal and how they almost universally ignore the role of both their colleagues and factors like distribution etc.

Comment by Rob

By the way, I’m in a fucking terrible mood today in case you hadn’t noticed. FUCKING terrible.

Comment by Rob

Are we sitting comfortably?

Comment by John


Comment by northern

My mood is worse.

Comment by The Kaiser

lot of fucking bad moods on here today. fucking excellent. proves monday makes people fucking miserable. except me. im well fucking happy when everyone else is close to committing mass fucking murder.

whats happened to you marcus? is it this blog post?

Comment by andy@cynic

marcus is out killing fuckers by the lack of response. just make sure the gun is aimed at planners. and germans. especially german fucking planners.

Comment by andy@cynic

Andy, where do I fucking start? But you kind of know the score anyway, ex-wife etc.

I suppose, in a way, this post did actually fuck me off. Not because of Campbell but because the post strikes a nerve; I’m fucking fed up to the back teeth of drab, corporate toads that look and behave like fucking accountants dipping in and out of culture and flogging stuff that (actually flogging bullshit bingo) as stuff that they a) understand and b) something that they think they could make work.

Storytelling. STORYTELLING! Kiss my fucking arse STORYTELLING! We’ve had the age of fucking conversation – which was an age of thirty something’s geek wank fest around a cultural “shift” that featured… themselves. The age of conversation was corporate toad raping of a book that know fucker understood. They raped the Cluetrain Manifesto so hard that even the authors of the fucking thing distanced themselves from it.

And now, we have the age of storytelling, an age where stories solve everything and everyone; more importantly they will save every brand.

I fucking despise these people.

Comment by The Kaiser

One day, Boucher, we shall meet. One day. There will be beer and anger. It will be the best of days.

May that day come soon.

Comment by The Kaiser

yes it fucking will. and youre buying.

Comment by andy@cynic

real storytellers don’t call themselves storytellers.

Comment by lauren

good fucking point lauren you smart cynical bitch.

Comment by andy@cynic

oh you…

Comment by lauren

Agree with Marcus. I mean, I think the “brand” thinking behind “transmedia” was interesting even before PSFK and Wired discovered it and actually enjoyed the TEDx Transmedia thing, but while it had some interesting speakers (Dan Hon e.g.) the whole topic really is a bit much of a kool-aid binge-drinking, and it really is very, very media spending related rather than client problem related. And stories, well, they aren’t exactly a 21st century phenomenon either.

So, I’m stapling it on top of the “viral video” entry in my list of things that advertising people don’t really seem to understand (and not even trying hard) but love referring to. Wondering how long it takes until the “can we have a transmedia” briefs start flowing in. Anyways.

Among the other things that have been around for ages and are repacked as if it’s the new thing is context and culture. Both totally new concepts, really.

Why is this? Do planners really think this stuff is new (and at the same time claim they’ve read all the classics from 50, 100 or 200 years back)? Do clients really believe this shit?

Comment by Thomas

[…] stuff. It’s what it’s always been about, isn’t it? This is echoing the sentiment in Rob’s post from a couple of days ago. Ironically, I do think that this may actually sound like groundbreaking thinking to a lot of brand […]

Pingback by (un)common sense and bravery

Slightly depressing amount of negativity here for a planner of a more junior persuasion like myself.

Who are these rockstars? I’d be interested to read what is making everyone so mad.

Comment by tom

its not depressing its some of the most valuable fucking lessons youll ever learn. and theyre free, fucking free. if you absofuckinglutely want to be a planner, stay fucking objective or you might find yourself being rounded up by a fucking sheepdog.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by tom

Leave a Reply