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

For Every Rule, There Is A Counter Opportunity …
May 29, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

A very long time ago, when we had cynic, one of our clients was MTV.

They were an interesting client, mainly because they didn’t hire us to do ‘ads’, but to help them with their ‘commercial entertainment strategy’.

What this meant was that we got involved in a whole range of things including the mad world of television show concepting – which, on hindsight, was a bad move because it led to us starting our financially disastrous documentary company experiment, potent_flicks.

[And no Andy, it would not have been profitable if we’d turned it into a porn company!]

Anyway, the point of this post is to talk about a meeting we had with some MTV execs about ‘fan communication’.

This was back when companies had just worked out how much cheaper it was to send email correspondence rather than snail mail – which had resulted in an avalanche of pointless information being sent out because:

1. The recipient had once indicated they were interested in getting new information.
2. The company took this ‘request’ as an excuse to send them anything they wanted.
3. The brands ego was out of control and viewed all their info as amazing info.

So we’re at this meeting and MTV were asking us how they could make their email correspondence stand out from everyone else’s.

Of course the obvious answer was to only send stuff they knew was of interest to the recipient, but that wasn’t what the execs wanted to hear, so then George said something that even to this day, I love …

“Why don’t you send them a letter?”

“A letter?” said the execs in a mocking tone, “No one sends letters anymore.”

What the execs had failed to grasp was that was the exact reason why they should have done it.

The problem with our industry is that we have become obsessed with being associated with cool rather than being obsessed with understanding people’s attitudes & behaviour and thinking up ways to nudge/shift/change them in cool ways.

Of course a lot of this is because we’ve sold creativity so far down the river, that we think the only way we can remain relevant is if people think we’re at the forefront of what’s new [which let’s face it, we’re no where near most of the time] but it’s that attitude that is ultimately undermining what’s left of our cred, because if we simply got back to showing how we understand how to nudge/move/change people and societies thoughts/views/habits, we could get back to where we rightfully deserve.

Would a letter to MTV’s base have been good?

Well, dependent on what was in it, yes.

Would it have been more expensive than sending an email.

On face value – absolutely – however, effectiveness isn’t purely about the cheapest price, it’s about the cheapest price to achieve the goal you need achieving and if most people were getting email correspondence rather than letters [unless it was a bill or something painful] and most people were ignoring what was in their inbox, then a letter they would read and be affected by would be far more ‘effective’ than the alternatives.

The most important thing for adland to remember is that it’s not about being cool.

It’s about being clever.

42 Comments so far
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I still think the “fighter for youth” idea was right. Even if it wasn’t, it was less wrong than what they went with. MTV used to set the youth agenda, now it’s where 40 something’s go to pretend they’re young. Anti ageing programming if you will.

Comment by Bazza

To George. Have you suggested a similar plan to Sergey and Larry yet?

Comment by Bazza

at least he doesnt want them to build a fucking car like another planning tool i could fucking mention. besides auntie george has 3 children to look after so he wont jeopardise his fucking golden handcuffs. so what the fuck is your excuse bazza?

Comment by andy@cynic

oh i forgot, youre fucking off arent you. in that case the question is what the fuck made you go stark raving fucking mad?

Comment by andy@cynic

It can’t be the cash, so I’m guessing an agreement to never mention his size in public.

Comment by Rob

5 words.


From written letter to plastic surgery reality shows. Where did it all go wrong guys?

Comment by Billy Whizz

For guys read George.

Comment by Billy Whizz

they thought my suggestion was to edgy.

i want a famous pair of tits.

fucking cowards.

Comment by andy@cynic

Is that why you chose those 2 as your partners?

Not famous but definitely tits.

(You’re not G & R, but nothing can stand in the way of making a bad joke)

Comment by DH

G & R = George & Rob.
G n’ R = Guns n’ Roses.

Just noticed that. Just 20 years too late to be topical.

Comment by DH

more like milli fucking vanilli.

Comment by andy@cynic

Brilliant tangent commenting there. Like the old days – except when people actually read blogs.

Comment by Rob

It’s a good post with an important point but I’d prefer it if you didn’t focus your blog spotlight on my past actions. I don’t want it to encourage the blog natives any more than it already has. Thank you.

Comment by George

There’s no need to be shy George, IWAFF was a ratings hit.

By MTV standards.

Comment by DH

now you know how i felt when all eyes were on me to turn your shitty creative wanky bollocks briefs into gold. except i always delivered where you ended up thinking buying a cake of a naked woman without head, arms and legs was creative. so why the fuck are you earning a fortune from the happy clappy people and i have 2 exwives and a holiday home in fucking vancouver to pay for. fucked up life.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks for the trip down memory lane Rob, especially potent_flix. It shone bright for a little while before dying in a anticlimactic whimper.

Comment by DH

we all know why. i know shes dead but jay goodie fucked us once then the righteous twins did it again when they stopped my porn directing debut. pricks.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes, well the less said about her the better – and not just for reasons of sympathy either.

Comment by Rob

I like the last couple of lines in this post. Am I sick?

Comment by DH

most fucking definitely.

Comment by andy@cynic

i almost like this post campbell.

good points on the fucked up mess that is the ad industry.
good points on the fucked up mess that is marketing.
good points on the fucked up mess that is mtv.
good point on the difference between cool and clever.
but the best point is making auntie george feel uncomfortable.

keep it up. at least the george awkwardness shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

I try. I fail mostly, but I still try.

Comment by Rob

wish you fucking wouldnt.

Comment by andy@cynic

I used to have to deal with a Creative who’s response to anyone’s strategy was ‘fuck that, just make it cool’. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who thought he was an absolute idiot.

Comment by Amy

Someone that say’s “just make it cool” is missing the point because real cool is the byproduct of doing something awesome, not the focus.

Don’t think Steve Jobs said to the designers “make the iPhone look cool, I don’t give a fuck what it does”.

Comment by Rob

For same reasons, I’d decided to write letters when I left traveling over a year ago, it was good fun and people loved receiving them. I should get back to it, particularly as it’s reminding I promised one of my best mates little boys I’d send him more post cards. I’d also say that actually in the story you’re telling sending a letter is the coolest thing to do because nobody is doing it – but maybe that’s just my definition of cool. I also don’t tend to use the word to give me any kind of direction in a work environment, that just sounds silly.

Comment by Willem van der Horst (@Hippowill)

My favourite definition of cool is “effortless originality”.

Which chimes with your point about being clever.

In this thread it means not using fuck or fucking as punctuation.

@Hippowill takes the clever/cool prize.

Comment by Phil

But Phil, “fuck” is the coolest word in the World.

Isn’t it???

Maybe that explains why clients view me as an irritant.

Though it could be the Queen t-shirts & birkenstocks.

Comment by Rob

It’s certainly versatile. I used to work with someone who had “Fuck you you fucking fuck” pinned to the wall by her desk. Fuck as imperative. Fuck as adjective. Fuck as noun. All in one sentence.

Comment by Phil

Errrrm, I have that too.

Fuckety fuck fuck.

Comment by Rob

In this thread the coolest thing is not contributing.

Comment by John

Glad you’re being true to the Dodds brand then John.

Comment by Rob


Comment by John

I once did that to find a planning internship. Send several agencies a real letter instead of an email and explaining exactly what this post is also about. No answer. Not a single one. Maybe it was because I also wrote a poem about myself as an introduction ………..

Comment by philipdm

Did it start “There once was a man from Belgium” ?

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

No, more about underground metal and Mao.

Comment by philipdm

then you cant blame the fuckers.

Comment by andy@cynic

Ha, that did get me an internship in China.

Comment by philipdm

adland is fucking shit at getting back to people. they bitch and fuckin moan about clients keeping shit to themselves and act ten fucking million times worse. fucking hypocrites. ill give campbell this, he always responds or meets idiots who want to see him. i know because i had 8 years of him bringing weird bastards into the office and 5 years before that pulling the same bastard stunt at hhcl. of course he only did it so he had another fucking excuse to not do any fucking work, but it was nice all the same. especially because it got the fucker out the office and out of my fucking hair.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’ve said for years about how important physical things are in the modern technology driven world. There is still a place for good DM..

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

I’m resorting to my iPhone since your blog won’t let me comment from the laptop
Why I’m banned when dodds is not escapes all reason
Anyway I loved what fuse tv did to MTV a few years back
It’s become hello magazine tv for kids
I can’t believe I know who Kim fucking kardashian is by the way and if she isn’t anything to do with MTV she should be
And yes my blog does seem to block dodds commenting no it’s not on purpose and yes machines are cleverer at filtering pedantry than we thought

Comment by Northern

hang on, are you fucking saying you persevered to make a comment on this blog? are you fucking insane?

and kim k might be a fucking fame whore but at least she has better tits that her male fucking equivalent, kev roberts.

Comment by andy@cynic

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