It’s was a live-from-Moscow performance beamed in to local cinemas.
Special only begins to describe it.
It might have been on screen but that didn’t stop us wanting to applaud like mad.
As you’d guess, Bolshoi performances are not without rapturous applause.
But it wasn’t always that way
In moments of uncertainty a company founded in 1776 hired claquers.
That’s French for an organized body of professional applauders. They’re paid for their efforts.
In 16thcentury France, playwrights called on claquers.
They bought blocks of tickets to give away on the promise that there would be applause enough to sway the critics and attract audiences.
But phony applause wasn’t the only trick, you had specialists.
Rieurs, laughers, were paid to laugh loudly at punch lines.
Pleureurs, criers, were paid to sob into their handkerchiefs in moments of despair.
You also had Bisseurs. They were paid to shout ‘Bis Bis’, a request for an encore.
You might say there was as much of a performance in the audience as there was on stage.
There’s something of a digital version of this these days with video click farms.
From New York Magazine, Max Read gives us this with a link:
On some platforms, video views and app downloads can be forged in lucrative industrial counterfeiting operations. If you want a picture of what the Inversion lookslike, find a video of a click farm: hundreds of individual smartphones, arranged in rows on shelves or racks in professional-looking offices, each watching the same video or downloading the same app.
No shrug of indifference to that, is there?
Phony views and sham data … maybe it’s why P&G’s Marc Pritchard pulled back from social media.
He cut $200m in 2017.
Video click farms are enough to turn us all into pleurers … with proper tears, of course.
But for many there’s a more pressing issue. The state of content and commercials.
Too many content efforts feel drab against the promise of something bright and appealing.
Equally, for many commercials nobody’s wishing they were a split second longer than they are.
Too many of them are non-starters compared to spots from Snickers, Geico and Old Spice.
Small wonder then that trust in advertising has dropped to a record low of 25%.
This comes from Unilever CMO Keith Weed, https://bit.ly/2RrR8lA.
Of course it’s easy enough to be a pessimist, but it’s not as if we can’t apply a little reason.
Many believe we need to improve creative work.
Among the many are Google and Apple.
They’re built on creativity; their TV spots brand with an emotional intelligence.
Their commercials have an ability to put feelings into people.
More marketers could do with that.
Maybe they should stop taking advice from themselves and read something about the power of ideas and branding.
Because to motivate people you need more than algorithms.
After all, what use is gee-whiz technology if what’s delivered is crap messaging.
Nobody’s about to applaud crap messaging, are they?
The head-on collision of ad agencies and clients has been written up more than a few times.
You don’t need me to tell you there’s moaning on both sides.
The unease puts you in mind of McGregor vs Mayweather.
From marketers we hear agencies aren’t responsive to change, they haven’t diversified and they’re overstaffed with management types.
They gripe about ad fraud and whinge about agencies that charge like the proverbial wounded bull.
Moreover, marketers say agencies aren’t knowledgeable about business, agility is iffy and agency holding companies are focused more on quarterly returns for investors than on shaping the future for brands.
What’s all that if not bruising.
But it’s not as bruising as hearing the agency model is broken, that’s it’s dead.
From the other side, agency people say marketers are sidetracked chasing the latest tech.
We hear ad managers think tactics are everything. They’re wedded to fix-its, not strategy.
We hear the importance of brand purpose is overstated and digital technologies are seen as solutions rather than platforms to deliver content.
We hear fee cuts are a threat to agency viability.
We hear bureaucracies reign and those in Procurement lack marketing vision.
Equally, it’s said too many ad managers don’t know a creative idea when they see one and their briefs carry all the inspiration of an empty bookshelf.
Right enough there’s a rift, agencies and clients aren’t exactly chums.
Maybe we need an advertising and marketing version of Julian Assange to get to the bottom of it.
Only joking on that account but until we see something positive it’s the work that suffers.
We have to put up with drab content and ads that are wearily familiar.
You wouldn’t be wrong to call them advertising chloroform.
So, what’s the cure?
It might be an idea to quash the infighting and begin improving strategies and creative work.
Maybe more sales-focused marketers are required.
We’re thinking of CMOs like Sergio Zyman who was at Coca-Cola in the 90s.
When everyone thought you couldn’t sell more Coke — the market was saturated — he rose to the occasion.
Zyman increased sales by 50% worldwide over five years.
With that, the stock price went stratospheric. It quadrupled.
Where are the marketers now who are as shrewd, gritty and unwavering?
How about creative work?
Axe the conflict with clients and agencies might have a better chance to produce ads like this one for the Economist.
By putting a premium on engagement it’s winning the battle against creative boredom .
Not surprisingly the public loved it. You heard about it in pub conversations.
Work at this level changes the way ads are viewed, doesn’t it?
Instead of an intrusion, a billboard becomes a memorable part of your day.
There’s a turnaround for you.
Time spent studying great stuff, like the Economist, should blanket marketers and agencies with discomfort.
Discomfort about all the dreary efforts produced these days.
But maybe more agencies and marketers will rise above the bickering and do something about it.
PS. Sir Martin Sorrell exits.
Just read about it in an article by Tom Doctoroff. Don’t miss it: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/after-sir-martin-sorrell-reckoning-tom-doctoroff/
Docotoroff has a good point: ad agencies should be more than producers of low-end TV spots and print ads … the ones that do little to make brands less anonymous. Doctoroff says agencies should regain their value as a source of ideas. Because to improve and enlarge a brand they are the only place to attract both creative and strategic minds.
Some may quibble with that as there’s a case for say, the creative talent in Dyson’s in-house team. They’re strong.
But you can say the best agencies are active and imaginative in their approach – hugely so. They work to counter fixed outlooks. They go beyond conventional solutions in dealing with recurring problems. They question accepted thinking, they’re not just reactors, they have the creative ability to position a brand well beyond the reach of competitors. And they operate with an autonomy that’s rare in a corporate environment; they often give you a more searching view of your brand outside the four walls of your boardroom.
In 1947, two years before Bill Bernbach opened Doyle Dane Bernbach he wrote this:
“There are a lot of great technicians in advertising. And unfortunately they talk the best game. They know all the rules. They can tell you that people in an ad will get you greater readership. They can tell you that a sentence should be this short or that long. They can tell you that body copy should be broken up for easier more inviting reading. They can give you fact after fact. They are the scientists of advertising. But there’s one little rub. Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”
Today’s marketers might want to print out these 97 words and tape them to their office walls.
They’re a reminder.
Advanced techniques in computational sciences have yet to produce one thing that’s key for marketers.