Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Some thoughts on going back to school.

In just one week from today, I'll be teaching an advertising course at AdHouse.

Virulence being what it is, the class at least for the start, will be taught over Zoom. That's not my favorite way of interaction (my favorite way would get me in trouble with HR) but as they say, any port in a pandemic.

As someone who's circled the earth a few score times--and spent almost two of those journeys employed by fairly large agencies--I have a pretty firm idea about what I believe is missing from most communications--and most agencies.

This is essentially what I pitched to creatives Tom Christmann and Paul Fix when they hired me to teach.

"There are a lot of people in the industry who have been in the advertising business for three years or fewer.
Many of them have advanced degrees. In art direction. In copywriting. In strategy. Some even have MBAs. 

They’re grown up in the “professionalized” business. Where people study for years. Often, they have advanced degrees.
And have interned at agencies around the world.
They know all the latest techniques, trends and award winners.

But do they know things that are more important? That are more essential to artful—and effective—communications.
Do they know the fundamental construction of any important communication?
·      Do they know how to organize information?
·      Do they know how to simplify information?
·      Do they understand hierarchy?
·      The importance of brevity, simplicity, honesty?
·      Do they understand how to get to the truth?
·      How a powerful communication is made.
·      How to stop people.
·      How to communicate information.
·      How to persuade.
·      How to twist things around so they become memorable. 

In this class, we'll talk about the fundamentals of strong communications. 

What makes a great ad.
Not style.

Maybe most important--we'll get to the very root of how communication actually works. All communications. From a baby crying for its mother, to a giant package goods company selling you deodorant.

I'm not going to give all that away here. People are paying good money to hear it from me. However, I wrote a short list for the class. 

For lack of something catchy, I'll call it "How to Tell if an Ad is Good." If you think I left something out, or that something is harebrained, kindly let me know. Or, let me know what you think. 

"How to Tell if an Ad is Good."

  • Surrounded by other ads, would this one get my attention?
  • Do I understand what the product or brand does?
  • Do I like the product or brand?
  • Did I learn something interesting about the product or brand?
  • Am I interested enough to learn more?
  • Did I learn something from the communication? (A new feature, capability, offer.)
  • Was I persuaded to do something? Learn more? Clip a coupon? Visit a website? Buy?
  • Did the communication affect positively my feelings toward the brand or product?

Then, just because I always try to do a little bit more than I have to, I wrote this second list. Again, if you have something to add, lemme know. I'm sure I missed something.

"Things to Never Say in My Class."
  • The product is boring.
  • There's nothing interesting to say.
  • It's all been said before.
  • Advertising makes people buy things they don't need.
  • I didn't have enough time.
  • The headline/copy are too long.
  • The subhead will explain it.
  • Nobody reads.
  • I don't think the clients will like that.

I'm not 100% sure but I think that's today's lesson.

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