Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Millward Brown Strikes Back

The other day I did a post about David Bonney's theory of Sad-vertising, which contained an attack on Erik du Plessis of Millward Brown.

It draws an instant e-mail response:

"Hi Scamp."

"I am Erik du Plessis, from Millward Brown (hssss)."

"I don’t think I mentioned that I am against advertising that raises a negative emotion. In fact I am a great one for advertising that raises an emotion, any emotion. The Maxwell tape ad on David’s blogsite is a very good example of using emotion in advertising (or sadvertising)."

"Emotion has two functions: getting attention and setting a framework inside which the message is interpreted. Sadvertising can do both, and often more effectively than Gladvertising. I would warn against Gratuitous negative emotions in an advertisement, but then I think gratuitous positive emotion has a similar problem."

"My view is that there must be emotion in an advertisement, and hopefully compatible with the product."

So there. And he can cause death by strangulation without even touching you.


Northern Planner said...

I did the APG Training Network with David Bonney, searingly clever, and a pretty good force push too.Glad you agree with him Erik, for your sake.

I went to Millward Brown conference last year - a whole day of telling what I already know but bludgeoning me with a million many crap slides.

Anonymous said...

Well if Erik Du Plessis is Darth Vader then he must have sympathy with the Dark Side.

I'm really heartened we seem to be on the same side now. For the record, my take on Erik's and Millward Brown's attitudes towards negative emotion are based on his book "The Advertised Mind" which anyone would be forgiven for interpreting as being firmly against negative emotion. Here's a quote...

"We are all programmed to seek out the positive and shun the negative. So it goes without saying that the emotions an ad generates in us needs to be positive ones".

Granted Erik acknowledges in the book that emotion is a "difficult" concept, but it does seem his views have moved on in the last couple of years.

Millward Brown should be congratulated for trying to get to grips with measurement of emotional responses to ads. And if Millward Brown's methods for testing sad-vertising are a not as honed as they could be (I think I recall a list of 16 emotional states that do not include a fair representation of complex social emotions) then I'm sure under Erik's influence things will improve.

The biggest challenge is drawing clients away from a "positive or nothing" approach to creative. And if Erik and MB can help us push clients out of their comfort zone, then the main barrier against truly moving ads will have been lifted.

May the force be with you.

Anonymous said...

Mate (Northern Planner), long time no speak!

I'll drop you a note a little later on... gotta pop into a meeting.

(Apologies for doing the whole reunion thing in public!)