Friday, July 25, 2008

Get Gruen

The Gruen Transfer (named after the bloke that invented shopping centres) is coming to the end of it’s first season. The show about ads and the Ad industry has been a popular success and a second season is planned.

At my first viewing I was a bit concerned that it might give us in the industry a bad name (or is that a worse name?)

But I was pleasantly surprised. The panelists soon overcame their urge to seem clever by cracking a few too many jokes. They settled down over the series to present a fairly good image of what’s best in Ad Land.
Here’s my subjective list of what I think the general public (and a lot of professional marketers) might not have known about the industry and the people in it.

-The Ad Industry is not populated entirely by wankers. I’m sorry I don’t like the word but it’s what a lot of the general public think of us. No, I thought they had rounded up some interesting and interested panelists. Of course there are some industry identities who have very well developed egos. But like bad policemen, those are the ones you remember. A lot of thinking goes into a 30 second spot.

- The panelists were real thinkers. But then they were all very experienced. They had gotten over the ‘let’s copy a shots reel ad and win an award’ stage of life. They impressed me with the way they came at any question from a range of angles. Marketers often are not aware of how much work goes on behind the scenes. You might not always agree with the results but you can be pretty sure any script, copy or layout has been well ‘interrogated’ before it get’s to you.

- As an industry we don’t always agree. Another misconception is that the advertising world moves, thinks and acts as one. Nothing could be further from the truth! Many marketers refer to ‘the agency’ as though it was a single monster made up of glued together people. As a marketer you can choose from a range of creative styles. We are not all the same.

- Ad people are not all heartless bastards. Far from the callous manipulators of the masses, these folks struck me as individuals that are daily balancing the realities of selling product, doing great work and being decent humans.

The associated web site is brilliant too. In Consumers Revvenge my 12 year old constructed a perfectly acceptable TVC in 10 minutes! Should I be worried? The Learn how to AdSpeak section should be compulsory reading for all agency heads before they talk to the press. It’s just good fun.

Who’d have thought that good old Aunty ABC would be running a series about advertising and win high ratings to boot? Good on Andrew Denton (the boy genius) for getting this idea up and running. I think it will help the ad and marketing industries immeasurably.


Zac Martin said...

I'm one to agree with you on that. From what I've read, I think a second season is in the works and as long as it doesn't go down hill I will be looking forward to it.

Tony said...

It's even being sold overseas! If that isn't a great endorsement I don't know what is.

Ziggy said...

There have been shopping centres for many centuries. Including fast food chains by the way. In Roman times a popular fast food item at the games was roasted mouse on a bun. (Please don’t pass this on to McDonalds.)

But then I’m used to dealing with the great unwashed history illiterate ad wankersJ

You must mean the guy who first brought us the beginnings of the great boring shopping trip a la Westfield? Otherwise known as Landlord rip off 101.

If Tony Soprano only knew what an opportunity he missed in not becoming a shopping centre developer and owner!

Thanks for the great adnotes

Craig said...

You know my only issue with the whole show , was Russell Howcroft from George Patts Melbourne who took, what I would consider, “the lazy mans” approach to advertising.

At one stage, when asked to criticize an advertisement, made the comment that early in his career, as a young account man, he was told that there was no such thing as a “bad ad”… and he stated that he still believed that today… and as he said it, you could see the jaws of the other 2 creatives hit the floor.

THAT was the comment to me that almost ruined the series because as a client, so many times I have been “sold a pup” by a creative director or account director saying “trust me trust me”…. This is great….etc etc…

I acquiesced on a couple of occasions, and in each of those cases, the agency won on creative production and media expenditure… and we lost on both due to poor sales and new production.

That’s when advertising became a sales business rather than a strategic business. And of course there are great examples of clients dictating creative direction to agencies so I am not saying its all agency driven… the best one though of all, was a J&J magazine ad for a panty liner… the image was the Carefree panty liner supporting a rickety chair… they may have well have just said.. this is useless and we don’t know what else you would use it for. The sad part was that Fred Vermeer, marketing director at the time, bought it and it ran several times across national women’s magazinesJ

There’s my two bobs worth for the month!!

tony said...

Craig, You make some valid points. One of the things that bugged me in agency land was the obsession with making award winning ads.
Often I was caught between where the client wanted to be and where the Creative director wanted to be.

Russell's comment is common: "we made it so it must be right!"

Actually I'm on a small crusade to divert some of the money spent on research BEFORE ads are made and using it AFTER.
I've had (a few) ads that didn't work but no one has ever told me why. I've never seen research that explained what aspects actually worked and didn't work.
Usually when an ad tanks, no one mentions it and we all quickly move on.