Knives and ideas

Sir Humphry 

There’s another great Yes Priminister quote which has been brought to mind by this most enjoyable post in adliterate.

In the show, Sir Humphrey is asked why he has described someone as ‘a great  man’ when he clearly doesn’t like him at all. He replies,

You have to get behind someone before you can stab them in the back

Richard’s post starts by bemoaning the fact that there is a popular trend of criticising agency creatives for being out of touch before laying in with both feet about how out of touch they are.

He continues to argue that in the era of mass production, advertising had to make a brand difference (through “big ideas”) because actual product differentition was difficult. But now the internet has put a stop to all that. So now it’s planners and their insights that are driving campaigns; or – heaven forfend – manufacturers actually implementing product differences.

But Hugh MacLeod explains here that this idea that advertising itself as a differentiator – rather than differentiated products well advertised – is a Western peculiarity. He goes on to explain that in Japan some brands need to be spun off and sub-divided because they have too much innovation.

So, should the planning departments of the ad agencies go it alone and drive product innovation through customer insight, leaving the creative johnnies to win their awards and write TV scripts?