You could almost say it’s been the year of the horse (said sadly as we cast our Findus Crispy Pancakes into a big burning bin).
But to help us all remember that horsies are winners, not dinners, we’re putting together a guide for how to pick which one will triumph at the Grand National on 6 April.
Prove you’ve got the Horse Force and email us with your way of picking a Grand National winner and we’ll turn the funniest and most inventive ones into our little tipsters guide. You can also tweet your suggestions to us @TogetherAgency using the hashtag #HorseForce.
The very best one will even receive a cheeky £30 bet for the big race.
1. Look around you. Does one idea or concept seem to be absolutely everywhere? So much so that any originality or impact it may once have had is now about as exciting as a Tom Cruise film all about how brilliant it is to be Tom Cruise?
If that’s the case then you should definitely do the same thing. If it’s everywhere that must mean everyone absolutely loves it, surely? Just look at all the people who are ‘keeping calm’ and doing some other tenuously related activity?
2. You can never have too many opinions when you’re creating an ad. Ask literally everyone you know (or just randomly encounter) what they think of your ad and how they can possibly make it any better.
That bloke who walks around the park dressed as Batman trying to hit squirrels with a fishing rod, ask him what he thinks – it will DEFINITELY be a sensible and valuable contribution.
3. Things are pretty slow these days and people have, quite frankly, got time to burn. If anything they’re constantly looking for ways to fill up their empty and dawdling lives. So why, oh why, would you even consider delivering your message in a bold and concise way?
People want rambling. They want complicated metaphors and ambiguous visual cues. They want dozens of disparate messages and conflicting focal points to be crammed into an ad. The modern consumer desperately wants to have to work at an ad to the point where their faces hurt through concentration.
4. Have you ever seen Mad Men? Those guys are ace. Do you notice how they don’t really give a monkeys what their clients or audience want, and just knock together what they think is good (and then have a cigarette, a glass of whiskey and an existential crisis of self within a rapidly changing world in which it increasingly appears they no longer have a place?)
The point is, advertising people are clever and brilliant and don’t need to bother themselves with silly things like the thoughts and feelings of their audience. Give them what you like and if they don’t like it too, that means they’re stupid for not realising just how inherently wonderful you are.
5. Yeah research is alright but, if we’re all honest, it’s a little bit boring. You could spend ages trawling through various sources to get a feel for the market and be inspired to create new and striking mediums of communication.
But if you did that would you then have the time to watch all the Robocop films back to back? Of course you wouldn’t. Anyway, you’re marketing people not professors. Just make it all up. No one will notice, and if they do then they’re the chump for bothering with details and stuff. And they’ve probably never seen ANY of the Robocop films. Losers.
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With increasingly regularity, at Together we are receiving briefs for work that gives substantial consideration to socially and environmentally responsible elements. While some may still ask the question whether business in the modern climate can afford to prioritise responsible and sustainable actions, the answer seems to be that many businesses feel this is something they can no longer ignore.
A lot of what we’re asked to consider now as an agency falls under the remit of Social Marketing, and more specifically how that may bring about significant social change.
The sociologist, G.D. Wiebe spoke of how marketing could be adapted from its traditional role of selling goods for commercial profit, to influencing attitudes and shaping behaviour that could generate positive social change. He succinctly defined this shift in purpose as ‘selling brotherhood like soap’.
The essence of this increasingly relevant strand of marketing is not so much in changing ideas as changing behaviour. As such, the ultimate criteria by which social marketing projects can be measured against is the behavioural influence it generates – an indicator notoriously difficult to identify and accurately attribute a cause to.
Social marketing in its inception was focussed almost solely on promoting contraception. In recent years its value and application has diversified across all kinds of social strands. Nowadays, theories and best practice guides for impactful social marketing are prevalent throughout academic and working arenas.
Even the most perfunctory examination of the corporate and commercial spheres suggests that adopting the tools of persuasion and engagement from traditional marketing will aid a push towards positive societal change in fields as diverse as health, equality, education and environment.
One of the chief exponents of the virtue (even the necessity) of social marketing is Alan R Andreasen who states that the effectiveness of the medium, itself needs to be marketed to industry. He suggests we, as an industry, must be bolder in finding and suggesting ways in which social marketing principles can be effectively implemented.
The landscape of marketing is shifting. Commercial transactions now form just part of our purpose. The new goal is significant and lasting behaviour change, not just through the public sector where this is widely adopted, but across the private sector also.
Social marketing should not be considered to be a rival to its commercial cousin. Instead they should be partners to establish and indoctrinate a consumer centric approach to communicating sustainability and social responsibility. While social marketing may combine various disciplines such as sociology, economics and anthropology, at the heart of this is the marketing instinct that drives the commercial sphere.
Together the two disciplines can target and then exploit the sensitive human triggers to social change. There is no disguising the fact that there is a huge challenge. Even assuming there is a willingness to change, converting that mentality into action is difficult and complex. An even more substantial challenge then emerges in maintaining that change.
Behaviour, as a concept and in reality, is not constant or inflexible, it is inherently fluid and impressionable. The challenge of social marketing is to achieve what is known as ‘the critical movement between contemplation and action’.
It can be done. It has been done on many, many occasions. And, if it gets done an awful lot more, it just might save us all.
Like a thoroughly unnecessary fifth Die Hard film (but far less vapid and depressingly abysmal) My Two Ads has returned, with the Together team raising a glass of bubbly to their favourite ever ad, while water-boarding to death their most hated one with a three litre bottle of White Flash cider.
This week, our Account Director and fan of ‘Cosy Crime’, Kate Fletcher.
The best: Levi’s 501 Laundrette
“Back in the late 1980s when this Levi’s ad first came out it was incredibly racy and quite cutting edge for its time. It hasn’t dated very well I suppose, but Nick Kamen stripping down to his pants is still a delicious sight.
Depressingly, when I spoke to my 28 year old friend about it she had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. But despite making me feel old it’s still an ad I remember now.
It’s a great brand ad and was very effective – I remember back then that Levi’s seemed to be the only brand of jeans that anyone would buy.
One weird thing we did notice though was when Nick takes off his jeans he’s clearly wearing a pair of pants UNDERNEATH his pants! Look out for it!”
The worst: Compare the Meerkat
“It may be a really predictable ad to hate, but my least favourite has to be the ‘Compare the Meerkat’ ads.
I hate Meerkats as creatures anyway, which probably doesn’t help, but these ads actually make me want to claw off my own face – which isn’t a great consumer response i’d imagine.
Also, on the website they write in the ‘voice’ of the Meerkats which drives me mad too.
Probably my biggest grievance though is the fact that they are encouraging people to take out expensive insurance with the incentive of a cuddly toy. I can’t believe anyone would choose their insurance based on receiving a soft toy – but apparently they do!
Personally i’d be happy to collect all the Meerkat toys and do a big sacrificial burning in a car park.
The rant’s not finished yet. I also really hate the follow up ads with Robert Webb – they just try so desperately hard to be ‘wacky’.
Having said that, it is a slight improvement on the Meerkats, but i’d still rather pay vastly over the odds for my insurance than use Compare the Market.”