One of my heroes is Ed McCabe.
I doubt if very many people reading this will even know who he is.
Given that, from the various advertising blogs, you’d think the only thing that mattered to advertising ‘creatives’ was whether an ad won anything at this year’s Cannes awards.
Ed McCabe said one of the most important things I ever heard about advertising effectiveness.
AN AD THAT DOESN’T CAUSE A RUCKUS IS A LOUSY AD.
I’M CONSTANTLY IN TROUBLE AND I THINK THAT’S PROOF OF MY WORTH.
Think about it.
If your ad works it has to piss someone off.
Certainly your competitors, who will be losing sales to you.
If your ad is doing its job, they should be hurting.
If it’s really good they’ll be trying to get it banned.
They’ll be complaining to the BACC or the ASA.
The people whose job it is to maintain the status quo.
The people who enforce the set of rules that are designed for the specific purpose of ensuring no one gets upset.
Designed to stop anyone rocking the boat.
But to get noticed you have to be different.
And the rules are designed to stop you being different.
So to be different you have to break the rules.
Which means the BACC and/or ASA will get upset.
Given your job is to create awareness above-and-beyond your client’s media spend you have to get people talking about your ad.
That’s how you create free media.
You create controversy.
Your ad should (in Ed McCabe’s terminology) create a ruckus.
If none of those things happen it means no one has been outraged.
Certainly not your competitors.
Because if your ad isn’t working, they won’t be upset by it.
They, like the rest of the population, probably haven’t even noticed it.
(After all, 90% of advertising goes unnoticed.)
You managed to run an ad that no one objected to because no one noticed.
No one noticed so you didn’t get into trouble, well done.
John Cleese said, IT IS THE GOAL OF EVERY ENGLISHMAN TO GET TO HIS GRAVE UNEMBARRASED.
I think most of them work in advertising.
That’s why they only care about the awards.
They’re nice and safe.
And more important, they are proof that people approve of you.