Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Talent wins

On the heels of its win at Cannes, a lot of marketing directors are asking, "How do I get a campaign as good as Old Spice?"

According to this story in Adweek, you get rid of client committees and don't test the idea with focus groups.

But the change in process isn't what created the great idea for P&G, it just made it easier. There's only one thing that made Isaiah Mustafa famous and increased sales of Old Spice: talent.

A talented planner uncovered and articulated a salient insight. A talented writer and art director envisioned the character and his environment. A talented creative director recognized this as the winner among all those he was presented. A talented account team made the client feel comfortable enough to move forward with an original idea. A talented producer found the talented director and they were able to see the project through to fruition.

If you remove committees and research and put your advertising in the hands of hacks and you get the Groupon Superbowl campaign.

I've never been a big fan of focus groups. I've seen them water down great ideas because they seem original and different (the two most important criteria for any new advertising campaign or product). Not having them, however, doesn't guarantee a breakthrough campaign.

Great talent can overcome a flawed process. But a perfect process will never replace superior talent.


  1. ...as I sit in a tiny, crowded conference room at this very moment... watching focus groups over the internet of direct mail letters being tested over the internet... I can only long for the sweet relief of Old Spice at this very moment. As the account people disregard any negative comments, hear only what they want to hear yet at the same time try to figure out how to piece-meal 4 different letters into one, dang, Harv, how if wish I was out on the riding mower like that lucky devil passing our window right about... ...now.

  2. I feel your pain. Isn't technology wonderful. At least in the olden days we got to travel when we observed focus groups and there was usually beer involved after.

    Favorite focus group memory ever: when our the senior art director on the team decked the junior ad manager from the client after he made some asinine comment. Good times.

  3. mine... Atlanta, GA... for GMC Sonoma... just happened to be the afternoon Game 7 of the world series... home game... featuring The Braves against somebody! The later the day got, the fewer that showed... and those who did were more and more drunk. And one woman could not let go the fact that the "3rd door" opened the wrong way! "'Cuz if ya ever had to jump out while the truck was moving, ya couldn't. You'd smack the door!" Ahhhhh... advertising.