A few years ago I went to a book launch party.

It was a marketing book so most of the people there were in marketing.

It’s also what most of the conversation was about: marketing.

I got talking to a young marketing person about advertising.

Her view was that how you said something was much more important thanwhat you said, so that should be the essence of all advertising.

I disagreed. I know it’s the conventional view, but I think it only relates to advertising done for marketing people.

Not advertising done for ordinary people.

She asked how I could say that.

I said “Okay, start with the fact that we’re each exposed to around a thousandadvertising messages a day”.

She said “I’m not”.

I said “Well you’re exposed to them like everyone else”.

She said “I’m not, I’m not interested in advertising”.

I said “But if you live and work in London, you’re still exposed to it”.

She said “I’m not, I never look at advertising, I don’t care”.

I said “No one cares about it, and that’s the real issue. Ordinary people don’t go around with notebooks and pencils looking for advertising so they can make notes about it to discuss later.

No one is interested in it and that’s the real issue.

Just like you, everyone is exposed to it. Just like you, no one notices it.

It doesn’t register, so the real point is how to make people notice it.

But she was adamant, she said “Well I don’t read newspapers, I don’t listen to the radio, and I don’t watch television, so I’m not like ordinary people”.

I said Look, as soon as you get out of bed and open your laptop or phone, if you use the internet there are ads on it.

Do you travel to work, because you must walk or drive past posters in the street?

If you take the bus there are posters at the bus stop and on the bus.

If you take the tube there are posters on the platform and train.

Do you walk to the shops for food or a restaurant for lunch?

Do you go to a coffee shop or a bar in the evening? Do you ever take a cab?

Do you ever scroll though your smart phone or laptop?

Because unless you spend your whole day with cotton wool in your ears and wearing a blindfold you can’t avoid being exposed to advertising.

You’ve just demonstrated the real problem.

You don’t notice any of it.

It’s invisible, it’s wallpaper, and that’s the real problem.

Why should people notice it? Why should they care?

We need to start by looking at our audiences lives and what interests them.

Not what interests us.

If we start with what interests them, maybe they’ll notice it.

But if we don’t start with them we won’t get their attention.

And if theyre not looking none of that can happen.

Whether how we say it is more important or not.

Whatever the latest marketing theory, if no one notices the ads nothing can happen.

But being a marketing person that wasn’t what she wanted to hear.

That wasn’t what she wanted her job to be about.

She wanted her job to be about marketing not the grubby business of adverts.