When my son was very small he came back from school one day looking upset.
I asked him what was up.
He said, “There’s a boy at school making fun of my name.”
I asked him what the boy said.
He said, “Lee Trott – pee pot.”
I said, “That’s not so bad, what’s the problem?”
He said, “I don’t like it and I don’t know what to do about it?”
I said, “Well you make fun of his name faster and better than him, until he shuts up.”
My son said, “That’s okay for you Dad, but I don’t know how to do it.”
I said, “Pardon?”
He said, “You went to a rough school where people learned stuff like that. But we never learned it at my school.”
I thought, fair point.
He went to a posh, North London private school, full of very nice, middle-class boys.
I said, “What’s this boy’s name?”
My son said, “Gbimini Soyinka.”
I said, “And he’s taking the piss out of your name, right?”
And I sat my son down and showed him the basics of making fun of other boy’s names.
See, the school playground is a great place to learn mnemonics.
A device to implant something in the memory.
What the boy had done with my son’s name was basic assonance.
Repetition of the vowel sound.
Another good device is alliteration.
Repetition of the first letter of a word.
Both of these are great branding devices for us to use.
Registering the brand in the consumer’s mind.
So that you can’t remember an ad without remembering who it was for.
We use those devices all the time.
At BMP we did ‘Do it for half at Halfords”
At Saatchi they did, “Don’t ‘um and arr’ go Red Star”
At GGT we did, “Hello Tosh, gotta Toshiba.”
“Ariston and on and on and on.”
“You can break a brolly but you can’t knacker a Knirps.”
“You’ll be amazed at a Mazda.”
The very lessons you learn in the playground, making fun of other people’s names, is how people’s minds work.
If you want something to stick, get a mnemonic.
So that’s a great tool to have when brand awareness is critical.
When the brief is Brand-Share, not Market-Growth.
Especially when you don’t have a definite point of difference.
Without a mnemonic you could just be growing the market for whoever is brand leader.
Another thing you learn fast in the playground is how to beat someone bigger and better than you.
And you do that by changing the rules.
So if a bigger tougher guy makes fun of you, you can’t make fun of him back.
But what you can do is make fun of yourself faster and better than he can.
Suddenly the crowd is laughing with you.
They’re on your side not his.
And he doesn’t know what to do.
He can’t get upset because you’re making fun of yourself.
But he’s being beaten, because you’re funnier.
So he goes away confused.
And you win.
What you learn in those situations is the subject matter is irrelevant.
You win by being creative.
That’s what interests me.
The way you win creatively, not the subject matter.
That’s what I found strange about something I wrote here a while ago.
It was about buying a house and out-thinking an estate agent.
I wanted to discuss the creative aspect of it.
But a lot of people just wanted to discuss the morality of it.
Was it right or wrong?
I don’t see the point of discussing morality.
You either thinks something is moral or it isn’t.
That’s not a creative issue.
That’s a personal opinion.
That’s the ‘What you do’.
Creativity is the ‘How you do it’.
David Abbott decided not to allow his agency to do cigarette advertising.
That was his moral position.
We can’t discuss how creative that moral position was.
Or how creatively he decided not to advertise cigarettes.
We can discuss whether Paul Arden’s Silk Cut advertising is more creative than Alan Waldie’s Benson & Hedges advertising.
But we can’t do that with someone who keeps repeating, “But cigarette advertising is wrong.”
Maybe it is wrong.
But that’s something for a morals blog.
This blog, hopefully, is about creativity.
Stanley Pollitt always used to say that we were like barristers.
The system was set up for our clients to get a fair hearing.
We were simply there to argue their case.
But I admire what David Abbott did, simply because he actually did something.
Most people just sit around and moan about things.
That doesn’t help anyone.
If you feel strongly you should do something about it.
That’s what I learned in the playground.