BACK TO BASICS
“In a more transparent world that we live in - just as it is going on in this country right now - you can’t get away with lies,” says strategy planning and advertising specialist Paul Arnold.
Arnold’s comments on unfolding events last Wednesday morning, following Malaysia’s biggest political upheaval in decades, is in fact aimed at the marketing and advertising fraternity; that at the heart of it all, brand messaging should be about telling the truth. Because you will be called out, and shamed, if caught lying.
“Advertising is about finding the fundamental truth (about the brand) and telling it well,” says the London-based ad veteran, who's backed by decades of experience, with stints at Saatchi & Saatchi, Grey and GlaxoSmithKline.
Advertising is about finding the fundamental truth (about the brand) and telling it well
“Technology has been a great disruptor and technology brings transparency. What that means is that brands can no longer get away with pretending to be a ‘holier than thou’ product,” he adds.
Arnold was in Kuala Lumpur to conduct a workshop to marketing and advertising professionals on how best to navigate a fragmented and an increasingly competitive marketplace through strategic planning. The workshop is supported by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Malaysia (4As) and Astro.
Strategic planning, which involves identifying and deriving meaningful brand building and creating purposeful market solutions, are lacking among agencies these days, says Arnold.
Instead, the psychologist-turned-adman says agencies are more focused on delivering measurable results, thus at the danger of just delivering another sales pitch, rather than turning creativity into business value.
“What I’m noticing more and more is that the agency world is moving more upon delivery, without as much direction. I’m seeing lots of brand put loads of popcorn content - which is meaningless and cluttering the airway with nothingness.”
“As agencies we have to move past the point of just creating content to be creative problem solvers.”
Here, Arnold talks about why marketers sometimes fail to influence.
No One Cares About Your Product
When asked about brand stories that stood out, Arnold points out world-leading stout beer Guinness and its famous tagline ‘Guinness for Strength’, as example.
In the 2013, 60-second ad titled 'Friendship', a group of six men in wheelchair was depicted playing an intense game of basketball. At the end of the ad, it was revealed that only one of the men actually needed the mobility device, while the rest played the game to support their wheelchair-bound friend.
“The truth of the brand is it is a very deep dark stout; that’s the strength of the product. But they link it back to the strength and identity of the individual,” says Arnold.
Here, he emphasises the role of ad agencies in brand planning; to develop a coherent and consistent brand message and deliver it consistently through different channels.
Go Back to Strategy, Go Back to Basics
Arnold also highlights the role of agencies in the era of disruption, where the use of big data and analytics have enabled advertisers to target, measure and optimise campaigns more effectively.
“The future of competitive set is in your ability to be creative because that is something that breaks the rule in the way Artificial Intelligence (AI) works. AI works in a way of looking backwards, creating patterns. The fundamental art of creativity is about disruption and breaking patterns. AI can never do creativity.”
“And that is why there will always be a place for advertising agencies. Creativity is the new answer,” says Arnold.
If a Brand is Not Useful, It Deserves to Die