Tag Archives: Plannertarium

The new engagement

Channel 4’s head of strategic sales set up The Plannertarium to
convince clients and agencies to try something new, Jane Bainbridge
writes. Four years on, the event has delivered in spades. Read more on The new engagement…

Welcome breaks

So, it’s engagement then.  C4 has decided that is to be the theme of the next in their successful Plannertarium series.

‘Engagement’ has been doing the rounds in the marketing industry as a must-have brand strategy for about a decade.  The prevalent debate around it is distilled in the famous phrase “From interruption to engagement”  I can trace this phrase back to about 2005 and to many sources including Sir John Hegarty and Sir Maurice Saatchi but its original author seems to be lost somewhere in the algorithm.   Read more on Welcome breaks…

From just three channels to five screens and four platforms

So as we gear up to this year’s Plannertarium, we’d like to kick off the conversation about ‘TV in the New Age of Engagement’, our theme for this year’s event.

What do we mean by that? We want to hear from planners, buyers, creatives and advertisers about the issues you think are important in the world of advertising; what you think is happening to TV in light of all the different ways we can now view and engage with commercial and editorial content. Read more on From just three channels to five screens and four platforms…

It is time to celebrate TV’s rising stars

As we enter the fourth year of the Channel 4 Plannertarium under the banner of “TV in the New Age of Engagement” the need for greater strategic thinking has never been so acute.

Read more on It is time to celebrate TV’s rising stars…

Heston and Delia struggling to find the perfect recipe

That three-and-a-half minute Waitrose ad featuring Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal could have been better writes Campaign’s media editor Ian Darby.

But the fact that it was created by Waitrose’s ad agency MCBD is interesting. This shows that branded content that goes beyond the 30-second ad spot has become the area on which agencies of all types – media, digital, traditional advertising and experiential – are all converging. Not to mention broadcasters and independent production companies who are all pretty well established in offering branded content services.

The Waitrose campaign, which aspires to be judged as branded content even though Waitrose has had to fork out for traditional ad space, created a buzz and plenty of PR when the stars of the ad were announced but I found the resultant ad disappointing and, at times, painful to watch. Parts of it just seemed too clumsily scripted to work in a longer format.

It will be interesting to see how the Waitrose campaign develops but for now it seems to highlight that there is a problem inherent in asking an ad agency to produce anything that isn’t a bog standard commercial.

The dream scenario with such content is to work with TV script editors and writers to commission something that seems more natural and dynamic and less like a tightly scripted commercial. Unless ad agencies learn this they’re likely to lose out to those with a greater understanding of branded content.

Read more on Heston and Delia struggling to find the perfect recipe…

Talked-about advertising

There are many things I hate advertising for.

A lot of it is lazy, a lot of it is specious, a lot of it insults the intelligence of the people it’s supposed to be talking to.

Some of it lies, a lot of it misrepresents.

A lot of it is pollution.

But if you look at it really closely, the most irritating fact of all is that 95% of it is a massive waste of money.

There is no point in advertising that is not talked about.

But the great majority of advertising is ignored.

Making some advertising and not wanting to be talked about is like fighting for peace or f*cking for virginity or drinking 8 pints of cider to sober up.

Advertising is, potentially, one of the most interesting things around. As individuals, we’re all engaged in a mass of commercial exchanges every day. All of those decisions can be influenced by great advertising. That makes it interesting.

Advertising is where art meets business. That makes it interesting.

Advertising is all around us, more prevalent than street lighting or emergency services or rubbish. That makes it interesting.

But IS it interesting ?

Come on, you know the answer to that.

How many ads do people really talk about ?

I don’t mean talk about in research groups. Research groups are a fake, a w*nk, a giant waste of time.

This is how Mark Fenske, a legendary American creative, describes research groups:

“The decision to run one ad rather than another is made by 15 people who don’t work for the client or the agency but were found wandering about in a shopping mall one afternoon and who, when approached by people with clipboards, did not possess even enough sense to walk the other way but instead were persuaded in less than a minute to follow an unknown person down a hallway into a dark room after being promised a bowl of M&Ms and maybe enough money to buy a tank of gas. They will not be aware they are making a decision, will not know which of their remarks made the decision & which not, but their unconsidered & unconnected sayings, pauses, burps and look-abouts will be collected into a voice more powerful than the weight of the agency’s argument or the common sense of anyone involved.”

Love that about the burps.

So – research isn’t going to help you produce talked-about advertising. And there are a whole host of other problems which contribute to the overall problem, too. And the overall problem is that most advertising is a waste of time and, more importantly, a waste of money.

When someone does an ad for a shampoo on a bus-side that nobody looks at, that’s more than just a shame. That’s wasting money.

It’s actually a criminal waste of money, when you consider the millions of pounds spent in the industry.

It’s also, and this is very germane, wasting one of the most precious resources in the world. Creativity.

Britain is renowned for its creativity all round the world. Say what you like about London, but creativity flourishes there. There are people creating extraordinary things in London – from video experiences to radical iPhone apps. From music to street theatre to sculpture.

And yet Advertising, where art meets business, is a giant wasteland of missed opportunities.

Why doesn’t the creativity get used ?

Why is the advertising world so f*cking frightened ?

I think the answer lies in learning how to take risks. Let’s take an example.

Years ago, my agency HHCL was asked to re-launch a soft drink that had great distribution but which nobody loved.

We came up with an ad that showed a fat orange man slapping a Tango drinker round the face.

But, if we’d have been REALLY smart, we wouldn’t have run it.

Because, if we’d been REALLY smart, someone would have spotted what was wrong with our ad.

They’d have said – “Wait a minute. This is copyable violence. What happens if two kids do this to each other in a playground, one damages the other’s eardrum, the kid goes to hospital, then the drink is on the front page of the Sun, which is demanding that the advertising gets banned.”

All of that happened. Every phrase and sub-clause of that sentence happened.

The worst thing that could have happened, happened.

And you know what ? It was OK.

Of course, we didn’t want a kid to get hurt. But kids fight each other every day in playgrounds up and down the country, and when you do something that enters popular culture, you take certain risks.

We handled the negative PR by putting out another version where the fat orange guy kissed the drinker. Not as funny as the slap, but still funny. And, crucially, not as likely to lead to hospital admissions.

Three weeks after the problematic ad first ran, sales of Tango had gone from 1 million cans a day to one and a third million cans a day. They couldn’t sell it fast enough.

People loved the advertising and they wanted to drink the advertising.

But you have to take a risk.

I’m sorry. There is no other way.

You don’t create talked-about ANYTHING by doing it the same as everybody else.

Films, groups, TV shows that get talked about – they all share one thing. They break the rules. They’re new. They’re different.

What’s the most talked-about and commercially successful film of the last year ?

Actually, not just last year. Not just the last 10 years.


Avatar, which was so revolutionary that cinemas all over the world had to get completely new equipment to show it.

Usually, with creativity, the reason not to do it – is the reason to do it.

Because people say “you can’t do that” and they’re engaged.

Most advertising fails to engage with people because it doesn’t dare to be different, it fails to make any proper return on investment, then the client or the agency gets fired, or both, and vast sums of money are p*ssed away.

If you take risks, what’s the worst that can happen ? If you get it wrong, you apologise and do something else.

It’s only an ad.

Make another one.

But if you get it right, you sit back and watch as the money and the awards and the applause come rolling in.

Read more on Talked-about advertising…

Caring about sharing

Like all the best blog posts, Jenny and Neil’s thoughts on ‘Getting your TV talked about’ made me want to dash off instant responses. That’s part of my job, I guess. But as a speaker at this year’s Plannertarium I thought I should try not to give the Thinkbox line on anything but focus on just one aspect of TV viewing that I think plays a big role in talkability, and that’s shared viewing.

The majority of the TV we watch is with someone else in the room at the same time, usually someone we live with the rest of the time! Despite the number of single person households increasing by 16% over the last 6 years, overall levels of shared viewing have held steady (52% overall and over 70% in peak-time) and hence is increasing for those people who don’t live alone.

The Thinkbox research project TV Together was quite tricky to conduct because shared viewing is so much the norm that it was hard to get people to start talking about it. But once they got going we uncovered many hilarious and even moving examples of what shared TV viewing means to people. There was even one middle-aged lady who gets up and goes down the road every evening to watch the soaps with her neighbour because her husband won’t watch them with her.

Most people don’t have to wait until the following day to talk about the TV programmes and ads they’ve seen around a watercooler – they do it instantly. This is unique to TV we think (you do watch cinema ads with other people, but it’s tricky to talk about them without getting popcorn thrown at you).

But is it valuable? You could argue that there’s the potential for distraction if people talk too much, but the benefits are huge and especially for certain categories. For any product that requires a joint decision – cars, holidays, furnishings, even investments – having a couple watching ads together is gold-dust. Then there’s gifting; hearing a partner/child talk about products they like the look of – fashion, games, books, CDs, fragrances – is a big help when thinking of what to buy for birthdays or Christmas.

This leads us to the topic of wastage. I think this is a misnomer in TV because you’re not buying a fixed price for a page or panel. You pay for the audience you’re targeting, so everybody else is not wastage but a bonus. Your target audience might be 18-34 men for a beer say, but when his mum hears him comment on a beer he likes that could well influence her next supermarket trip.

The lovely thing about shared viewing is that BARB already offers us all the data we could ever need to highlight those programmes where it can be maximised if you think it has a benefit for your brand.

You’ll have to wait until the Plannertarium to hear what I think about more funky topics like facilitated word of mouth, multi-tasking, creative fame, social ideas, on-demand viewing, the Virtual Sofa and what they all mean for talkability. But don’t forget about the delightful and simple phenomenon of shared TV viewing; use it and don’t take it for granted.

Read more on Caring about sharing…