Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hegarty - Turning Intelligecy into Magic

I love every single story in this book – they all make Hegarty’s point that if we want to make something memorable we better tell it as a story – but exactly that story seems to be slightly missing from the overall book. Yet, still a great read for everyone even mildly interested in advertising. Below you’ll find some of the best stories from the book:

“We’re also in the entertainment industry. In fact, you could argue that advertising, from the moment it was born, was trying to entertain us.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.9).

“without understanding those fundamental facts of engaging, entertaining and exciting an audience, digitization isn’t going to help you, it will in fact destroy you faster. That’s the power of the net.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.10).

“’Turning intelligence into magic’. At its simplest this is what has defined BBH’s best work” (Hegarty, 2011, p.10).

“You are someone with the chance to change the world and inspire large audiences. I was excited by advertising because it gave me a platform to talk to the masses.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.22).

“And with ideas, the more you have them, the better you get at having them. That’s one of the reasons why advertising is such a stimulating environment in which to work.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.24).

“typically a great piece of thinking that gradually become compromised in an attempt to get the client to buy it instead of putting it out of its misery and starting again. There is always a belief in these situations that, somehow, the compromises won’t show when the finished work is produced. Sadly, this kind of whishful thinking affects us all.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.25).

“The unpredictability is what males what we do in advertising so exciting – you literally don’t know where you’re going to end up.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.27).

“But using irreverence for its own sale is dangerous. Do that and you risk becoming irrelevant. The function of irreverence should be to help question and, in doing so, offer a possible solution.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.34). “humour has an important role to play in advertising. We use it because it’s a way of making relax and listen. When your audience is in that state of mind they’re more likely to remember what you’re saying and act upon it.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.35).

“A brand isn’t only made by the people who buy it, but also by the people who know about it.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.43). “fame is fundamentally important to a brand’s success. Why? Because it is a form of shorthand in the decision-making process that takes place in a hugely competitive world. (…) Fame adds value and protects the brand from competitive pressure. (…) The dictionary defines fame as ‘public renown – great esteem. “(Hegarty, 2011, p.43).

“But today things are different,. For today’s audiences it’s not about status – that’s class ridden and old fashioned – it’s about staying ahead. (…) Wearing the right pair of jeans in the right finish doesn’t cost a fortune, but it does require an understanding of fasion.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.52).

“At BBH we refer to ourselves as an ‘ideas factory’ – a factory that helps to manufacture brand difference. (…) service industry.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.59).

“if you’re genuinely going to be better than your competitors, you’ve got to love what you produce above everything else.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.60).

“I’m much happier when a client talks about the business problem they are trying to solve. I always think getting them talking about their business, the things they understand is more productive than their talking about the abstract business called advertising.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.79).

“It’s amazing how many agencies never behave like a brand despite the fact they’re constantly advising their clients on brand behaviour. Great brand have a point of view – they stand for something.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.87).

“it’s essential that brands remain constantly youthful. Why? Because if you’re youthful, you have a future.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.90).

“So it’s simple really, isn’t it? You want to win more pitches? Then have a better showreel. And play it up front.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.94).

“And, of course, when employed correctly, storytelling can make things incredibly memorable, especially for brands.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.96).

“you don’t instruct people to do something – you inspire them.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.102).

“a brand is an agglomeration of stories linked together by a vision.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.102).

“He quite rightly brought me to my senses , saying that the worst thing that could happen inreality was that we could fail. If we failed with BBH it wouldn’t stop me being an award winning art director.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.150).

“brands more often than not go wrong because they lose touch with their roots and the values and qualities that made them successful. This doesn’t mean you simply talk about the past, but it does mean that connecting a brand’s audience with the positive beliefs that established the brand’s original success is important.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.155).

Coming up with solutions were the agency wants to change the product: “It saves them having to find a solution to their problem and instead it rests with the product.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.163).

“We argued that if music could be global, film could be global and art could be global, why couldn’t advertising?” (Hegarty, 2011, p.171).

“’words are a barrier to communication’. Not because I didn’t value them – I did – but all too often they were over used to explain an idea instead of enhancing it.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.187).

“It’s an obvious point to make, but I believe that if creativity is at the heart of you company and your company is not constantly evolving and expanding, then it’s dying.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.205).

“Always remember that creativity is a business tool –never be ashamed of that.” (Hegarty, 2011, p.212).

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Mr Sammler’s Planet – Saul Bellow 1969

A critique of American society and its legalization (or acceptance)of crimes as long as they make profit for the market.

“Sammler is obsessed with an understanding what causes a civilization to embrace ruthlessness as the best way to realize its ambitions and handle its fears” (Bellow, 1969, p.viii).

“The thing evidently, as Mr. Sammler was beginning to grasp, consisted of obtaining the privileges, and the free ways of barbarism, under the protection of civilized order, property rights, refined technological organization, and so on. Yes, that must be it.” (Bellow, 1969, p.4).

“Power and money of course do drive people crazy. So why shouldn’t people gain power and wealth through being crazy?” (Bellow, 1969, p.52).

“Of course he was rich, but the rich were usually mean. Not able to separate themselves form the practices that had made the money: infighting, habitual fraud, mad agility in compound deceit, the strange conversaitons of legitimate swindling.” (Bellow, 1969, p.61).

Another theme are the endless possibilities in post-war society and how they actually are restricting to people. Bellow constantly opposes these possibilities with finalities
like the death of his nephew and mankind moving to the moon.

Saint Augustine: “”The Devil hath established his cities I the North.” (…) But now Augustine’s odd statement required a new interpretation. (…) The labor of Puritanism now was ending. The dark satanic mills changing into light satanic mills. The reprobates converted into children of joy, the sexual ways of the seraglio and the Congo bush adopted by the emancipated masses of New York, Amsterdam, London.” (Bellow, 1969, p.25).

“the struggles of three revolutionalry centuries being won while the feudal bonds of Church and family weakened and the privileges of aristocracy (without any duties) spread wide, democratized, especially the libidinous privileges, the right to be uninhibited, spontaneous, urinating, defacating, belching, coupling in all positions, tripling, quadrupling, polymorphous” (Bellow, 1969, p.26).

“For what it amounted to was limitless demand – insatiability, refusal of the doomed creature (death beingsure and final) to go away from this earth unsatisfied. A full bill of demand and complaint was therefore presented by each individual. Recognizing no scarcity of supply in any human department. Enlightenment? Marvelous! But out of hand, wasn’t it?” (Bellow, 1969, p.27).

“In their revulsion from authority they would respect no persons. Not even their own persons.” (Bellow, 1969, p.29).

“Humankind could not endure futurelessness. As of now, death was the sole visible future.” (Bellow, 1969, p.60).

“Feffer could not let him go. Feffer could not be quiet. His need was to be perpetually arresting, radiant with fresh interest.” (Bellow, 1969, p.101).

“In a revolution you took away the privileges of an aristocracy and redistributed them. What did equality mean? (…) it meant that all belonged to the elite. Killing was an ancient privilege. This was why revolution plunged into blood.” (Bellow, 1969, p.118).

“This attempt to make interest was, for Mr. Sammler, one reason for the pursuit of madness. Madness makes interest.” (Bellow, 1969, p.119).

“Both the USA and the UDSSR were, for Sammler, utopian projects. There, in the East, the emphasis was on low-level goods, on shoes, caps, toilet-plungers, and tin basins for peasants and laborers. Here it fell uponcertain privileges and joys. Here wading naked into the waters of paradies, et cetera.” (Bellow, 1969, p.129).

“I think we may summarize my meaning in terms like these: that many have surged forward in modern history, after long epochs f namelessness and bitter obscurity, to claim and enjoy (as people enjoy things now) a name, a dignity of person, a life such as belonged in the past only to the gentry, nobility, the royalty or the gods of myth. And that this surge has, like all such great movemets, brought misery and despair (…). As long as there is no ethical life and everything is poured so barbarously and recklessly into personal gesture this must be endured. And there is a peculiar longing for nonbeing. Maybe it is more accurate to say that people want to visit all states of being in a diffused state of consciousness, not wishing to be any given thing but instead to become comprehensive, entering leaving at will.” (Bellow, 1969, p.194).

“Of course at the moment of launching fom this planet to another somethingwas ended, finalities were demanded, summaries. Everyone appeared to feel this need. (…) each accented more strongly his own subjective style and the pracices by which he was known. Thus Wallace, on the day of destiny for his father, roared and snored in the Cessna, snapping photographs. Thus Shula, hiding from Sammler, was undoubtedly going to hunt for treasure, for the alleged abortion dollars. Thus Angela, making more experiments in sensuality, in sexology, smearing all with her female fluids. This Eisen with his art, the Negro with his penis. And in the serie, but not finally, himself with his condensed views. Eliminating the superfluous. Identifying the necessary.” (Bellow, 1969, p.230).

“The best, I have found, is to be disinterested. Not as misanthropes dissociate themselves, by judging, but by not judging.” (Bellow, 1969, p.195).

“It is fearful! Not to be borne! Intolerable! Let us divert each other while we live.” (Bellow, 1969, p.244

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Bulgakov – The master and Margarita

The devil comes to Moscow and confuses all people – sometimes it seems that the devil is a metaphor for the secret police, because magically people disappear and suffer yet no one wants to talk about it. There is also a second story about Pilate, who wants to set Jesus free, but doesn’t manage due to various pressures from society and thus for the rest of his life (and afterlife) suffers.

Moreover it is a book about artists in a dictatorship where they are constantly under threat for what they write and what compromises they have to make and how to maintain integrity or don’t. Easy to say, to ignore the threat, but much harder to do.

Both stories unite the central theme of cowardice – or the self-accusation of cowardice

Bulgakov’s gentle irony is a warning against the mistake, more common in our time than we might think, of equating artistic mastery with a sort of saintliness, or, in Kierkegaard’s terms, of confusing the aesthetic with the ethical. (Bulgakov, 1966, p.xvii).

“’Why, actually, did I get so excited about Berlioz falling under a tram-car?’ the poet reasoned. ‘In the final analysis, let him sink! What am I, in fact, his chum or in-law? If we air the question properly, it turns out that, in essence, I really did not even know the deceased. What, indeed, did I know about him? Nothing except that he was bald and terribly eloquent. And furthermore, citizens,’ Ivan continuedhis speech, addressing someone or other, ‘let’s sort this out: why, tell me, did I get furious at this mysterious consultant, magician and professor with the black and empty eye? Why all this absurd chase after him in underpants and with a candle in my hand, and then those wild shenanigans in the restaurant?” (Bulgakov, 1966, p.117). “Well, what can be done about it? Man is mortal and, as has rightly been said, unexpectedly mortal.” (Bulgakov, 1966, p.117).

“Rimsky knew where he had gone, but he had gone and … not come back! Rimsky shrugged his shoulders and whispered to himself: ‘But what for?’” (Bulgakov, 1966, p.120).

“That is a fact. And a fact is the most stubborn thing in the world. (…) that your theory is both solid and clever. However, one theory is as good as another.” (Bulgakov, 1966, p.273).

“’Let me see it.’ Woland held out his hand, palm up.
‘Unfortunately, I cannot do that,’ replied the master, ‘because I burned it in the stove.’
Forgive me, but I don’t believe you,’ Woland replied, ‘that cannot be: manuscripts don’t burn.’” (Bulgakov, 1966, p.287).

“but good heavens, philosopher! How can you, with your intelligence, allow yourself to think that, for the sake of a man who has committed a crime against Caesar, the procurator of Judea would ruin his career?
‘Yes, yes …’ Pilate moaned and sobbed in his sleep. Of course he would. In the morning, he still would not, but now, at night, after weighing everything, he would agree to ruin it. He would do everything to save the decidedly innocent, mad dreamer and healer from execution.” (Bulgakov, 1966, p.320).

“‘He does not deserve the light, he deserves peace,’ Levi said in a sorrowful voice.” (Bulgakov, 1966, p.361).

“’Listen to the stillness,’ Margarita said to the master, and the sand rustled under her bare feet, ‘listen and enjoy what you were not given in life – peace Look, there ahead is your eternal home, which you have been given as a reward.” (Bulgakov, 1966, p.384).

“the master’s memory, the master’s anxious needled memory began to fade. Someone was setting the master free, as he himself had just set free the hero he created.” (Bulgakov, 1966, p.384).

Monday, 11 July 2011

Craigh Wright – Listening to music

Great introduction to ‘art music'. Great listening examples and explanations. Unfortuantely not a lot on the 20th century, slightly unfair about dodecaphony and an American bias.

Roth The Humbling 2010

It is Roth’s book about an actor who loses the ability to act. “Instead of the certainty that he was being wonderful, he knew he was going to fail.” (Roth, 2010, p.1). “The worst of it was that he saw through his breakdown the same way he could see through his acting.” (Roth, 2010, p.5). “He was an artificial madman too. The only role available to him was the role of someone playing a role.” (Roth, 2010, p.6).

He is desparate and engages in a relationship with girlfriend that saves him form depression.

In their relationship he buys her more and more cloths and dresses her up – as if she was was to play a role, that he cannot do any more. “Wasn’t dressing her up in costume as though a costly skirt could dispose of nearly two decades of lived experience? Wasn’t he distorting her while telling himself a lie?” (Roth, 2010, p.66). Accordingly, for every person he meets, he asks himself, sooner or later, whether he or she is acting or not? He buys her more and more expesive cloths.

Later they pick up a girl in a bar for a threesome: “she’s a cat, he thought, before the cat pounces, the falcon before it soars from the falconer’s wrist. The animal you can control – until you let it loose. He thought, I am providing her Tracy the way I give her the clothes.” (Roth, 2010, p.110). “Three children got together,” he said, “and decided to put on a play,” whereupon his performance began.” (Roth, 2010, p.114).

When she leaves him, all possibility to act – on stage and in life – are gone and thus commits suicide: but he can only do it once he develops a plan to play it as a role in a play.

“And if it’s that hard to kill someone else, someone you have every reason to want to destroy, imagine how hard it is to succeed in killing yourself.” (Roth, 2010, p.42). “until finally it occurred to him to pretend that he was committing suicide in a play. In a play by Chekov. What could be more fitting? It would constitute his returen to acting.” (Roth, 2010, p.139).

Cultural Strategy - Holt and Cameron

This book develops a very interesting alternative for developing briefs/strategy to the traditioanl approache.

It jumps right into the usual gap between ‚brand statement’ and execution. Rather than letting the execution being developed randomly based on meaningsless brand statements and empty feeling worlds (usually called tone of voice in the briefing) Douglas and Holt propose build creative work on ideology, myths and cultural codes

“in the end, even if the concept consists entirely of abstract phrases, the actual marketing offering must make use of concrete cultural content. (…) However, because such messy content has been systematically excluded from the insights and strategy stages, when cultural content is finally added back in, it happens without any sort of strategic guidance” (Holt and Cameron, 2010, p. 302).

He argues that innovation is usually based either on technological innovation or on a psychological benefit areas – yet both ways ignore cultural innovations. For Douglas and Holt it is not about better product or services but inventing a better ideology: for example Nike had all their product innovation developed early. And also its positioning on enhancing performance was in place. But it only took off once they reinvented the American dream with their ideology of “Combative solo willpower”. Similarly Ben & Jerry only took off, once the Ideological flashpoints against the Reagan free market economy and showed how this contributed to a sustainable business.
2010, p. 88). Marlboro used the cowboy for years without success – only once it developed Marlboro country against the backdrop of the ideal of the “organisation man”. They used John Wayne’s Western as source material, but changed it significantly according to the reactionary work myth: Marlboro country is a place where physically challenging work takes place in nature, where cowboys must be self-reliant and determined, no savages no guns and no violence. There are no women to rescue; cowboy is hos own boss. This is not a Western, it presents a myth about an idealized version of pre-industrial men’s work on the Western frontier (Holt and Cameron, 2010, p. 167).

In the last section of the book, Douglas and Holt argue, why brand bureaucracies don’t work: It is not unusual for a brand bureaucracy to spend only 1-2 days of developing concepts and than test them for months (Holt and Cameron, 2010, p. 298). The end result are concepts full of vague generic phrases that could mean just about anything – “the qulity of the concept is far less important than the rigor of the process used to test it.” (Holt and Cameron, 2010, p. 299).