Erik DuPlessis sent me a link to this post titled 'The Wisdom of Taxi Drivers' by Damon Stapleton. Thank you, Erik, like you said, “very, very good”. Why? Because it reminds us that the power of stories lies in being interesting, specific and human. It reminds us that we need to keep people – the target audience if you must – at the heart of the creative development process.
Stapleton tells the story of a New York taxi driver who sums up the difference between New York and Los Angeles as,
“New York is theatre. LA is TV. Yes, sir.”
Succinct, readily appreciated and based in truth, the description is still memorable to Stapleton 20 years later (and I would argue still just as applicable). So if a taxi driver can come up with something this good, why are brands struggling to create advertising that resonates with their audience?
There has been a lot of news about ads created for major brands that have met with serious consumer backlash because the idea or presentation was out of synch with the audience’s mindset. As noted in this AdAge article many marketers seem to have forgotten that people’s BS detector is dialed up and on 24/7 these days and so end up broadcasting ads that are explicitly rejected, not just ignored.
Stapleton asks us to fast forward five years and asks what the future will be like. He suggests,
“We make content cheaper; we make more of it and we put it everywhere. This very process will make what is made more generic and boring.”
To which I would add, inauthentic, inappropriate and irrelevant. Stapleton proposes that the solution will be what it always has been,
“Be distinctive. Be interesting. Be noticed. Have something to say. And say it well. Those things don’t change.”
In the past I might have agreed, but when everyone can create content, good and bad, how will we make sure that content will be seen? Even the content that is remarkable, inspirational or useful will be lost in a sea of consumer-driven creativity. Sure search and algorithms might help make stuff be more discoverable but will people actually bother to seek it out?
Written by Nigel Hollis, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst, Kantar Millward Brown