The Science of Soggy Sandwiches

Richard Maddocks
March 17, 2021

Sometime in the mid 2000’s I was running around telling everyone that this new internet thing was going to liberate the advertising creative’s soul. This was a time of the Subservient Chicken (look it up kids), and when clients would ask agencies to make ‘a viral’.

Not long before that, the art of advertising has been melted down (with highly questionable results) into a ‘science’. At its worst (or most scientific depending what side you were on) this involved people who were happy to trade in a Tuesday evening for fifty bucks and some soggy club sandwiches to judge the value of every three seconds of a TVC animatic.

Say goodbye to all that, I said. You can’t make rules for things you don’t know how to do. And no-one knew how to internet.

But within a blink of the eye, the digital world had doubled down on science and over the following decade creatives were handed a new set of rules. How to write YouTube videos. Facebook posts. Once again, we were told we only had three seconds.

After a creative renaissance, things looked bleak.

Performance marketing – or as I prefer to call it – geeky computer stuff that features a combination of data, re-targeting, Miro boards and other unexplainable phenomenon - can transform connection and interest into a sale like never before.

But in order for that model to work, the consumer still needs to have some emotional connection to you in the first place; you know, that whole brand bit. AKA, the creative bit. The part that requires fresh thinking and originality. That requires insight and entertainment. That empowers and liberates the creative department and demands that they do what they do best.

So, where we’ve reached today is not a choice of one over the other, but the best of both.

Which is really me just saying that 20 years ago, I was completely wrong, but also, somehow, completely right.

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