We all know the object of advertising is to sell stuff.
Maybe we’re selling a product: car, chocolate bar, tv set.
Maybe we’re selling an idea: don’t smoke, don’t drive fast, don’t be racist.
But the object of what we do is to sell something to someone.
When a client doesn’t want to leave his success to chance, he comes to us.
So we believe in selling, right?
Then how come we leave it to chance whether our ads get made?
How come we don’t sell the ads themselves?
To the ECD, The account group, the client.
George Lois said, “Don’t show me your drawerful of great roughs. If it don’t run it ain’t advertising.”
We think we’ve done our job, once we’ve written the ad.
If it doesn’t run, we’re not to blame.
It’s the account man’s fault.
Well maybe so, but we certainly take the consequences.
We won’t be able to put the finished ad in our book or on our reel.
Because we haven’t got a finished ad.
Just a rough or a script.
And you can’t enter those for awards.
So the question is, if we believe in selling why don’t we sell our work?
And this is where understanding other people’s jobs comes in.
It gives us access to the language that allows us to put together a convincing argument as to why our ads should run.
It allows us to sell our work.
We don’t need to understand everything about their jobs.
Just the basics.
For instance, supposing you’re doing TV and the brief says a 30” ad.
You might ask, “What’s the OTS on that?”
OTS is the simplest and most basic piece of information you can get.
OTS just stands for ‘Opportunities To See’.
So you’re asking what is the average number of times the average person in our target group will see our spot?
This then gives you an idea of what sort of ad to write.
It’s no good writing a subtle and involving ad that demands repeated viewings when you’ve got an OTS of 1.
Similarly a hard sell in-your-face ad is going to get old pretty quickly of it’s got an OTS of 14.
You may find you’ve got a campaign with an OTS of 25.
And you’ve been briefed to do 3×30” ads.
In which case you may be able to put up an argument to make that a single 60” ad with an OTS of 12.
That’s pretty much what Stella used to do during their great years at Lowe.
Make a longer, more expensive, ad and run it for much longer.
Because, when you understand OTS, you can put up an argument about longer term quality versus short term impact.
You can do the same with several 16 sheet posters versus a single 48 sheet.
David Puttnam talks about how CDP built what was then Europe’s best agency by consistently convincing their clients to convert several smaller ads into a single DPS.
But we have to learn the basics of their language in order to do it.
We wouldn’t buy something from a salesman who said,
“Look it’s just loads better this way. Can’t you understand that?”
And yet that’s the way creative people tend to talk to other disciplines.
If it really is better we should be able to put up a convincing argument.
If we can’t put up a good argument, maybe it really isn’t better.
Either way, if we can’t sell it, it doesn’t run.
That’s the bottom line.