Dreaming of Adland…
I don’t know about you, but often when I get hold of a client brief, the first creative ideas that pop into my head take the form of advertisements. It happened to me again last week, and I was musing on why that might be.
I think it’s because - in the world of advertising - you control the message entirely (as long as you’re not making any entirely outlandish claims); there’s no editorial filter. The only filters, in fact, are the agency’s account lead and the client. And judging by the number of atrocious ads around, it isn’t much of one. It’s also why people don’t believe advertisements.
But when you’re thinking in advertisement form, you can basically present the client’s message as blatantly as you like…which is what often happens when you start thinking about a client’s PR brief. Then, of course, you need to put what the client would like to say in the context of something that’s believable, so that it’s got half a chance of finding its way through the editorial filter.
It’s because of this that, while many people would point to the advertising industry as being the more creative, it’s actually PR where you need to apply your creative energies more to what the client wants to say.
I’ll admit it though. Before I landed my first job, I’d have probably taken a job in advertising over PR and I reckon many of my peers would have too (given that many of us simply fell into PR as a career). I think that’s changed significantly in the last decade or so, with more entrants into the industry making a conscious choice to pursue a PR career (though with many of these seeming to leave in a worryingly short space of time).
Advertising still has something of a glamorous image though, doesn’t it? The size of the budgets helps (though much of the tens of million pounds in advertising contracts you hear about is, of course, spent on simply buying media). But there’s still the attractiveness of pretty much being able to do what you like, as long as you can sell it to the client.
One recent(ish) TV ad that I liked was the Sony Bravia one…you know, the one where the tower block spurted loads of colourful paint everywhere. Lovely…but quite what it told me about Sony I’m not so sure, other than it makes colour tellies and impressive ads. I guess it’s just a brand thing.
If you were doing PR for the Sony Bravia, however, you’d have to do something that would appeal to the media. You’d probably do some research. Eight out of 10 northern blokes think that the Sony Bravia’s colours are better than the real life ones they see every day in their dreary, rain-soaked home towns…70% of women in Wales are more likely to have sex on a first date with a bloke with a Sony Bravia in his front room…that sort of thing. You wouldn’t simply pour a load of Dulux off a condemned building and expect someone to write about it. In positive terms, at least.
It’s a fine line between a great ad and a rubbish one though, isn’t it? While the Sony ad is a creative concept that really appeals to me, I can’t stand that Vodafone ad on the telly at the moment with all the bits of watches raining down on people’s heads. For a start it looks painful…for a finish I hate the idea that having email on the go is positioned as being as much fun as kicking your way through autumn leaves or freshly fallen snow.
And I reckon that the Vodafone PR people are gutted, as they have probably recently spent thousands on the same “mobile email saves you bags of time” survey that Blackberry launched the other week.
But imagine if these advertisements happened in real life? Sharp little pieces of metal falling randomly from the sky…all because of Vodafone? It’d be a PR disaster. Just as well they work in Adland, rather than the real world.
But I'd still rather buy a Sony than switch to Vodafone...