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“Yes. But….”: Challenging Short-hand Marketing Rules

7th October 10

Author: Emma Cookson, Chairman BBH New York

This bunch of charts comes from a BBH session at a recent conference organized by The Bellwether Group in New York. The subject of the day was ‘Creativity and content creation in a digital age”. So something of a wide canvas….

My start point was the realization of how intimidated I felt speaking on the topic – and the further realization that this intimidation stemmed not just from personal neurosis or the breadth/complexity of the subject (although all that applied), but that I was also intimidated because there’s already so much great comment and advice in this area available. It’s one of the interesting by-products of an age of such extraordinary pace of change that we’re all frantically trying to keep learning, keep up to date, keep pace – and as a result there’s a whole slew of people working to satisfy that desire with tips and advice. Every day brings a deluge of advice and input on digital marketing/comms/business-building.

My observation is that although so much of this advice and comment is truly fantastic, the flip-side is that within all the rush and deluge we are sometimes accepting and sharing – at speed and at face-value – assertions that maybe should bear closer examination and qualification. Perhaps all these assertions we read in the latest expert tweet or in the headline of that skimmed article are all broadly right – but maybe not in all circumstances, not right for all brands, not right in every dimension. Perhaps there’s a slightly more precise story to tell (see our recent post on a similar theme examining participation).

So that’s where this presentation came from. And why it’s called ‘Yes. But…’ I note a number widely accepted truths about creative best practice in a digital age – and, without disagreeing with any of them, suggest that they might benefit from a little qualification. My contention is that – for example – escalating consumer control of brands is of course a real phenomenon, but it doesn’t absolve brand owners of deep responsibility for brand leadership and, yes, still a degree of brand control. Or that ’360 degree marketing’ is a good clarion call, until you start wondering if it really is right that the most powerful communication solutions really do always have to be deployable in every single channel, with every weapon available in our communication arsenal.

Any comment or argument is greatly appreciated.



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