John Pearce (the P in CDP) always used an analogy to explain how advertising works.
He would say, “If I throw six tennis balls to you, you won’t catch them all.
You may catch one, but the chances are six to one against you catching the most important one.
In advertising we know you can only catch one message.
So it’s our job to decide which is the most important message and only throw that one.”
So that was the brief.
Reduce a complicated marketing strategy down to a single simple message for the consumer.
But how to do that?
Well the basic system of binary code made a good model.
Reduce every question to a simple choice between two alternatives.
You can only choose one.
Black and white, no grey.
It’s fast because it’s simple.
It’s powerful because it’s simple.
That’s what makes it like all the best thinking.
Fast, simple, and powerful.
And that’s the Binary Brief.
Choice 1) Market Growth or Brand Share
Choice 2) Triallists or Current Users
Choice 3) Product (rational) or Brand (emotional)
The point is to use those choices like a language and a discipline.
To force everyone to make tough choices before the ads are written.
Used properly, it allows us to turn a marketing brief into a communication brief.
Used properly it can be very creative.
Take British Airways.
For years FCB had the BA account.
The campaign they ran was, “Fly the flag”.
In Binary terms that was: Brand Share/Triallists/Brand.
Because there is no reason given to choose BA, the subtext is, “We’ve got nothing else to say except we’re British.”
So the patriotic choice then.
Which made it seem like an old fashioned brand.
The Daily Mail of airlines.
No wonder sales were declining.
FCB lost the account to Saatchi.
Saatchi also did Brand Share/Triallists, but instead of Brand, they did Product.
They played with the statistics and found out, “British Airways fly more people to more places than anyone else.”
Which allowed them to use the endline, “The World’s Favourite Airline”.
Which, although cloaked in reason, actually did more for the brand than all the previous Brand advertising.
It made it seem the smart, modern choice.
Even though BA was actually the 5th biggest airline in the world, everyone thought it was the largest.
This is a case of Product building Brand.
Also very true in the car market.
Take Volvo, BMW and VolksWagen for instance.
For years these companies did Product advertising, telling you why their cars were better.
David Abbott’s Volvo press ads were always factual, about why Volvo were safer.
Consequently, the Volvo brand is about safety.
Ron Collins and Robin Wight’s BMW press were always factual, about why BMW were better to drive.
Consequently, the BMW brand is, ‘the ultimate driving machine’.
For decades, Doyle Dane Bernbach’s VW press ads were always factual, about why VW’s were so reliable.
Cosnequently, years later, the VW brand is, “If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen”.
We don’t have to do the obvious.
Running a brand campaign isn’t always the best way to build a brand.
Certainly emotion can make you desire a brand.
But reason can make you believe it.