It seems possible. First of all, he does have a beard. That’s a good start.

But more pertinently, there’s the god-like levels of insight.

This presentation of his totally rocked my socks.

Read the whole thing immediately, if not sooner.

Only if you have an urgent meeting in 3 minutes’ time should you read this paltry summary:

Feldwick’s basic thesis: “Ads must aim for the heart, not the head.”

Yes, we all know that. But Feldwick’s point is that we don’t act on it.

“We know brand preferences usually aren’t rational,” he says, “and yet we still persist in trying to put rational messages into our advertising.”

What’s the rational message in successful brand-building campaigns like the PG Tips monkeys, or ‘Whassup’? There isn’t one.

Let’s face it, even when there is information about the product, that information is not the sell.

For example, in the Rowan Atkinson Barclaycard ads, there was always product information. In the ‘Rug’ execution (“Aah. Smell those Tuareg campfires. Unmistakeable”) there was a rational product message about Barclaycard’s free insurance with purchase; but the ‘real sell’ is the “associations with a fashionable comedian, to sophisticated entertainment, to a contemporary style of humour and to the good feelings that you have when you watch that commercial. One result of that was a significant growth in numbers of younger cardholders for example.”

The lovely thing about Feldwick’s point-of-view is that he leads us straight back to Bill Bernbach – that the success of an advertisement is dependent on creativity, emotion and execution; not logic, strategy and message.

“Suppose”, Bill Bernbach wrote, "Winston Churchill had said 'we owe a lot to the RAF' instead of 'never was so much owed by so many so few', do you think the impact would have been the same?"

Feldwick locates success in “the visual, visceral power of the entire advertisement; its colour, movement, music, timing and every detail.”

I just have one ‘build’ to Feldwick’s approach. I wonder whether the product information – as well as giving the creative team a useful starter – might be necessary as a ‘justifier’? Just like you can’t eat two spoonfuls of honey without a slice of wholemeal toast underneath to justify it, maybe the Barclaycard consumer needs the rational ‘purchase insurance’ message to feel that the rug-based entertainment is justified. I don’t know.

Anyway, Planners needn’t fret. We’ll still need a brief. But it should talk about the desired associations, rather than any information to be communicated. For example, the brief for ‘Whassup’ might have read “Associate Budweiser with feelings of sociability.”

But no more briefs about hops and barley and shit. For real.

27 Comments