8 February 2012 - Advertising
It’s extraordinary what you see on some outdoor media nowadays.
Often very little. In some cases, absolutely nothing at all.
Leastways, not without the aid of a small telescope directed at the 48-sheet, bus back or Adshel in question.
That’s because there are so many examples of outdoor advertising out there where it’s practically impossible to read what’s actually on the poster. The type’s too small, the message is too long, the imagery too complex. It sounds such a simple error, such an obvious oversight, but it’s amazing how many times it happens.
What a shocking waste of the client budget. What’s the point in slapping your message on the back of the bus, if the person travelling behind has to get out of their car and press their nose up against the bus’s behind to read it? What’s the point in committing thousands of pounds to a 48-sheet campaign, if the viewing public has to cross the road, mount the pavement, hurdle a small wall and practically stand underneath the poster to make any sense of the message? What’s the point in taking out those six-sheets if the passing pedestrian has to whip out a small magnifying glass to understand it?
The whole point about outdoor is immediacy. You’ve got to get it straightaway. You’ve got to have impact and instant understanding. It’s bad enough trying to attract and hold the attention of your audience in the press. But, at least with that medium, you have the comfort of knowing that the reader can always turn the page back if sufficiently interested to take another look.
You don’t get that luxury with a commuter in their car. Once they’ve gone past, that’s it. The moment lost.
Yet how many times do you find yourself sitting there in your car trying to make out what’s written on that bus back? Trying to decipher the impossibly small and spidery text, trying to make out the montage of tiny confusing images? How many times do you catch a fleeting glimpse of a poster and get all of half way through its 15-word headline before you find yourself compelled to give up? How many times do you find yourself saying: ‘Wonder what that ad was about? Wonder who that was for?’
Blowing a client’s budget on an outdoor media message that’s too small to read, too illegible to make out and too long to register is nothing short of criminal.
Creating great and compelling outdoor isn’t easy. Not by any stretch. But there are some simple rules to follow that can go an awful long way to making it effective. In fact, I’d boil those rules down to three:
Keep is short. Keep it sweet. Keep it simple.
Sure, you can stretch those rules and add some quirky tricks – particularly when there’s some latitude in the budget. For instance, adding a 3D element is a great way to grab attention. But stick to those three simple rules and you won’t go far wrong.
A former client of ours once wanted to take out 48-sheets around the city centre. Their objective was straightforward enough. They wanted to convey that they were respected specialists at making financial deals around the world – particularly in Europe, even more particularly in Germany.
Our solution was three words:
Just three words that got across the financial aspect of their business and also their specialist geographical area of concentration. Plus a neat little joke for the football fans amongst us.
Not a 3D gimmick in sight. Just a bold, immediate, impactful, relevant message.
And actual proof that, when it comes to making the most out of outdoor, then less is definitely more.
If you’d like HROC to create some great outdoor advertising for you, why not give us a call.
30 January 2012 - Advertising
I’ve had some briefs in my time, let me tell you. Big ones, small ones, long ones, short ones, 10-hour ones, 2-minute ones, 5000-word ones, 5-word ones, chapter and verse ones, barely even verbalised ones.
The brief is in many ways, of course, the start of the cycle. The first step on the creative journey towards the big idea and, as such, is absolutely critical to the whole process.
Give a good brief and you’re instantly upping your chances of the agency coming up with a great idea.
And yet, in my experience, it can be an area that’s often overlooked, often given scant regard.
Now I know it’s always going to be horses for courses when briefing. The level of detail and the amount of preparation the client or account handler goes into will, of course, depend upon the type of job involved. Not to mention your own familiarity with the client as a creative. If, say, you’re coming up with a small support ad that’s going to take you 20 minutes, you don’t want a four-hour brief. Similarly, if it’s an existing client, you might not want nor necessarily need a blow-by-blow account of their every marketplace innovation in the last 100 years.
But, if we’re talking about a new creative campaign for a new or relatively new client, here would be my tips to help you forge a mutually productive and beneficial relationship with your creative resource – my advice to help you end up with the best possible creative result:
1. Don’t be lazy
Don’t dodge the difficult. Don’t hide from hard work. Few things in life are liable to irritate the art director/writer team more than having account handlers or clients email messages where they’re asked to scroll down through umpteen internal email discussions in order to eke out the valuable snippets of information they need to help them embark on the project.
Trust me, ‘See below’ are two words guaranteed to set off a small fit of creative pique. That and ‘Check links’.
So, don’t take short cuts. Don’t ask people to do your hard work for you.
At the very least, especially if you’re on the agency side, it’s being terrifically lazy. After all, unless you’re intimately acquainted with the product or service, unless you pass on those nuggets you’ve picked up, unless you show yourself that level of understanding and knowledge you’re trying to engender in your creatives, how on earth can you expect to get the desired results?
2. Don’t be a cliché
You come across some fairly weird characters in advertising agencies. We can be an eclectic bunch.
Many, many moons ago, HROC used to have an account director whose entire brief consisted solely of:
‘It needs to stand out and grab attention.’
It didn’t matter who the client was. Didn’t matter what product or service they were selling. Didn’t matter which media it was. Didn’t matter who we were supposed to be talking to. The instructions to the creatives were always the same:
‘Make it stand out. Make it grab attention.’
This came as something of a surprise to the creatives. Naturally, we were under the impression our job was to make the idea as dull and ordinary and insipid as possible. We assumed our key objective was for the creative execution to create minimum impact, garner minimum attention, achieve minimum standout.
What the account director in question failed to understand, of course, is that, when someone’s words and mantras are stuck on endless repeat, their meaning diminishes and what they’re saying becomes a kind of fuzzy background noise. Ignored by everyone.
There was another former account handler (okay, you got me, it might have been the same one) whose default setting brochure brief comprised just four words. Whatever the client, you could be pretty much sure that the brochure in question needed to be:
‘Clean, fresh, modern, contemporary.’
So, don’t lapse into old overdone advertising chestnuts. Don’t lumber your creatives with inane marketing platitudes. If you want the best, well-thought out creative solutions, give them a well-thought out brief. If you want a creative idea that prods and probes and pokes, then the brief you’re writing should attempt to do the same, too.
3. Do look for the compelling insight
Advertising probably used to be a whole lot easier back in the old days.
Back then, you had USPs – unique selling propositions. Something new and different your client could lay claim to.
Nowadays, USPs, absolutely bona fide USPs, are much more difficult to come by. It’s a way, way more competitive world out there. Nowadays, more often than not, you have to dig a whole lot deeper to find that special something about the product or service you’re advertising.
Here at HROC, we don’t look for USPs anymore – not unless they’re staring us right in the face.
We look for the compelling insight instead.
Okay, it’s probably just a more highfalutin and more sophisticated way of saying USP – in fact, ask the HROC Planning Director, and he’ll blur the lines further still by telling you the compelling insight is the attempt to differentiate the client in order to gain a business advantage.
Swopping marketing speak for creative cat speak, I guess we’d describe it as an attempt to identify the quintessential truth of a brief – to get to the kernel, the very crux, of the message the client’s trying to convey.
Give the creative team a focal point. Give them something to go after. This isn’t asking you to do their job and come up with the idea for them, but there’s no harm in tossing out a possible angle – an approach that warrants consideration. An avenue to explore.
Yes, of course, a brief needs all those other ‘givens’. The mandatories, the Instructions on guidelines, the deadlines, the budget, how big the logo’s got to be, so on and so forth. But, if your brief lacks a compelling insight, I’d suggest you keep it away from the creative department until it does.
If you’d like to brief HROC on coming up with a big marketing idea, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
25 January 2012 - Advertising
To paraphrase an old Tottenham Hotspur legend, back in the days when ‘Saint and Greavsie’ was absolutely de rigueur of a Saturday lunchtime for any self respecting football fan, advertising is a ‘funny old game’.
Leastways, it can be for the creative.
Especially when you’re talking about the creative process, that often weary, always inexorable journey towards the ‘big idea’.
Anyone who’s ever set out on that particular mission on a regular basis will be familiar with how it goes. Basically, you stare at a big, blank, white layout pad, chunky black marker pen poised at the ready, for hours on end, hoping against hope that some big fat juicy, brief-answering, potentially award winning idea is going to somehow magically and spontaneously pop into your head from nowhere.
Then the hours turn into days. The days can and often do turn into weeks.
And, despite spending what seems like an eternity endlessly pinballing things around your head, despite mentally screwing yourself up into the tightest of stress-filled balls exploring and re-exploring potential creative routes, your layout pad is still the same as it was at the start of the journey.
Big, blank, white.
Untroubled by even the slightest scribble. Undisturbed by anything that looks remotely workable or developable.
In the meantime, of course, you distract yourself, seeking inspiration everywhere, eking out creative stimulation in everything.
You absorb every piece of the client’s sales literature, devour every PowerPoint, pore relentlessly over every last syllable on the website, becoming, to all intents and purposes, a part time expert on them, on their sector, on their competitors.
You go out to their headquarters, visit the factory, meet the people, imbibe their culture – getting to know them, getting to know all about them (I used to be intimately acquainted with most, if not all, of the 200 individual operations required to handcraft a single pair of boots for a shoe manufacturing client).
You spend the thick end of two weeks turning yourself into the equivalent of some kind of advertising creative monk. Getting up at a ridiculously early hour, going to bed late, forgetting to eat in-between – surviving on a diet of thick, black, treacle-like coffee, the kind your spoon stands up in. Your kids start to ask their mother who that monosyllabic zombie is with the rigid stare and sunken eyes, and what has he done with their father.
You change tack, your approach, your routines, even try to change the scenery – a former HROC creative guru always insisted that my art director and I, when bereft of creative inspiration, should go and sit in a boat in the middle of a lake (I think it was a symbolic thing, not to be taken literally).
And then, just when you think your brain has been squeezed dry of every last drop of creative juice, just when you’ve had your fill of going over and over possible creative routes you dismissed days before as weak and clichéd and hackneyed, just when you are absolutely at the end of your tether and seriously entertaining alternative career options…
… it happens.
An idea appears. Materialises out of nothing.
It’s akin to electricity. Something, a thought process, going into a kind of instantaneous electrical loop. Something previously intangible joining up. One part of the brain connecting with another connecting with another connecting with another. All your ducks suddenly lining up into a nice, neat neural sequential row.
And, even before the idea’s properly come together, even before it’s really taken shape, you’re already picking it up, running with it, probing and prodding it, pushing back the boundaries of its potential further and further, as you realise the idea isn’t just good, it also has ‘legs’.
And you know. In an instant, you know. You’ve done it. You’ve cracked it.
You can’t legislate when or where or what or how. You simply can’t. This is why there is such strong advertising folklore about ideas being scribbled down on the back of the proverbial fag packet – because, chances are, the eureka moment came to you while you were staring down into a urinal.
No matter how much you delve or post-analyse, you will never understand what the trigger was. As you stand there bathing in the warm afterglow of the knowledge that you’ve pulled it out of the bag, you won’t be able to pinpoint the catalyst. All you’ll know is that you probably had to go through all those days and weeks of mad desperate agonising and creative barrenness to get you to where you are now.
And you’ll probably feel it was worth it.
If you’d like HROC to go on a creative journey for you, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
13 January 2012 - Advertising
What do the film ‘A Night to Remember’, Armistead Maupin’s ‘Maybe the Moon’, Cilla Black’s ‘Surprise, Surprise’, Ty Pennington’s ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’, Port Vale FC, my children and the John Lewis’s Christmas commercial all have in common?
I’ll tell you. They’ve all reduced me to tears.
Actually, Port Vale FC and my children do that to me on a virtual weekly, if not daily, basis.
Back to that John Lewis’s commercial though. If you’re of that kind of emotionally overwrought disposition, prone to lapsing into sentimentality, you can sort of expect that tearful outcome with films, books and TV programmes, things that have deliberately set out to tug away at the heartstrings.
But a TV commercial? I mean, really? Duh?
I know I’m the kind to break down at the first hint of a reunion involving long lost relatives, I know I’m turned into to a whimpering incoherent mush by anything involving a child and serious illness, but I have to say blubbering my eyes out over a TV advert was a definite first for me. And anecdotal evidence would seem to support the notion that I wasn’t the only one.
Now the decorations have been taken down, that disaster of a sweater your mother bought you has been returned to the shop from whence it came, and that big fat ridiculous inflatable Santa has finally been taken off the roof, I thought it would be worth taking a look at what all the furore was about.
And furore it undoubtedly was.
After all, how could a mere TV commercial entrench itself so firmly in the consciousness of the public? How could you find it the central topic of conversation at virtually every Christmas social you attended (perhaps I just get invited to really dull do’s). How could it have so quickly spawned a surfeit of spoofs – a sure sign if ever there was one of its status and penetration into the public perception.
I guess there are a few reasons.
In itself, it was a brilliant, immaculately conceived and crafted piece of drama. Forget the fact it was advertising something. It was simply a faultless piece of story-telling with every scene and vignette beautifully weaved together to retain interest and attention. A compulsive repeating drama you had to watch again and again because, like the very best films, you had to make sure you hadn’t missed anything relevant the first time.
And, of course, it was relevant. Boy, was it relevant, seamlessly, inconspicuously, filling up the commercial with actual products sold by the actual advertiser that viewers might end up actually buying in one of their actual stores. In an age where something as simple as portraying typical products and typical customers has seemingly become a forgotten art, when the world’s largest primate playing drums is deemed the best way to sell chocolate, wasn’t it refreshing to see a piece of advertising that presented its wares so cleanly and honestly. Wasn’t it a nice change to see substance winning over style? And especially at Christmas.
Maybe it was the fact that there was a twist. A delicious delightful twist that, the first time around, I swear I never saw coming – and which, despite repeated viewings, still surprised me time and time and time again.
Maybe it was the unforgettably haunting soundtrack, a cover of a Smiths song that has in turn stirred up its own minor controversy, with fans of the band accusing Morrissey, the ultimate anti establishmentarian figure, and Marr of selling out to the middle classes.
Maybe it was the fact that, irrespective of what particular chaos reigned in our own living room, whenever the commercial aired you could be pretty much assured that, by the final frame, all occupants – parent and child alike – were held in a kind of rapt appreciative silence.
Maybe it was all down to timing. Maybe, in a world that seems increasingly dehumanised, after a year where the cities have burned and shop windows have shattered, we all welcomed a bit of sentiment into our lives, no matter how sickly, sweet or cloying. We all needed to rediscover that simple emotional warmth and innocence again.
Or maybe it was the fact that – for the first time in a very long time – I found myself, as a creative in an advertising agency, staring at a TV commercial and thinking: ‘Wow, I’d wish I’d done that.’ Hand on heart, it made me want to take one hand out of the mixed nuts bowl and the other out of the ‘Celebrations’ box and, instead, head for the HROC studio to whip out my A3 layout pad and big thick N60 marker, like days of yore.
But, most of all, it was probably because the ad made me want to act in a certain way. Why, it was all I could do to stop myself from hopping in the car and heading out in search of the nearest Lewis’s store – this from someone who has never felt a particular affiliation with or connection to the shop. I found myself affected, influenced, persuaded. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what we – as advertising agents – are supposed to be trying to do?
16 March 2011 - Advertising
Had an interesting conversation the other day with the new breed of agency writer – the search writer. He was querying some changes I’d made to an article of his.
‘You’ve started a sentence with ‘but’. You can’t start a sentence with ‘but’.’
The irony wasn’t lost on me. A writer spawned by the new digital age trying to champion a very traditionalist grammatical approach with someone who was writing copy when art directors still ticked in headlines, tracing type over blown up photocopies of the font. But (see what I did there) I let it go.
Instead I suggested it was entirely acceptable nowadays to start a sentence with a conjunction, before coming out with that age-old advertising chestnut: ‘Anyway, the first rule of advertising copy – there are no rules.’
Which got to me thinking.
If there were rules for writing good ad copy, what would mine be? So, here are the first ten that flew into my head:
1. bang. Start with a
Grab attention. Oh, if I had a pound for every time an account handler’s briefed me to ‘grab attention’… Seriously though, you know what I mean. If you lose your reader right at the outset, that’s it. You have one chance, don’t blow it. Hit your reader hard with something impactful that makes them sit up, take notice, read on. Promise something in those first few opening words.
2. Familiarity breeds content
Only connect. With apologies to fans of E.M. Forster and ‘Howard’s End’. Not forgetting the quiz show, of course.
What I mean is, get to know your audience. Talk to them in a language they’ll understand. So, don’t just write – think about it first. Find out about the marketplace, so you can use the right vocabulary and gauge just the right tone. Maybe leaf through a few target audience magazines.
Look, writing copy, advertising per se, indeed, any kind of marcoms – it’s all about empathy, all about engagement. It’s all about connecting with your target audience. So, poke, probe and prod them, before you try to talk to them.
3. Have a nice little chat
Suffering from writer’s block? Don’t worry, it happens to everyone. I always think the best and easiest way to unblock yourself, in a non-constipation way, is to imagine you’re having a one to one conversation with someone – you’re talking to them confidentially. Maybe even visualise someone you know who might be representative of that particular target audience. Now, what would you say to them? Simply imagine you’re having a cosy chat with them. Do that and you’ll be amazed how quickly the words come spilling out.
4. A paragraph doesn’t have to be a paragraph
I often think writing good copy is, in part, ignoring everything you’ve ever been taught by your old English teacher. So, don’t be surprised to see paragraphs comprising just one word.
Why not one word, if it creates impact, if it’s powerful, arresting, attention-grabbing? At the end of the day, all we’re trying to do is communicate. If that means throwing common grammatical notions out of the window, then hey-hoh.
Use short paragraphs if it aids communication and understanding. Use short sentences too. Obviously, it’s horses for courses and there will be some copywriting tasks where bigger words and longer sentences are more appropriate. But, for the most part, it’s all about making life easy for the reader. Keep it short, snappy and punchy and there won’t be any confusion. Don’t make life difficult for your reader. Good copy’s as tight as a drum.
5. Forget features, bang on about the benefits
Okay, don’t ‘forget’ the features. And don’t ‘bang on’ about anything. But, you know where I’m coming from. Concentrate on what the product or service is going to do for the reader. Don’t simply reiterate and regurgitate what the product does. You need to make it obvious how the reader’s life is going to improve as a result of purchasing.
6. Make sure you cut out all meaningless waffle wherever possible
Don’t go on. I know what it’s like. Sometimes, you want to impress. You want to visibly demonstrate your copywriting prowess, your undoubted wordsmithery.
As we say in Stoke, ‘Dunna bovva.’
I often think the best writers are those equipped with the best editing skills. So learn to perfect them. Whenever I write a piece of copy, no matter how long, I always read and re-read, ruthlessly cutting out whatever I perceive to be superfluous. Even when it’s borderline superfluous, even when it’s got only the slightest whiff of fluffy, it gets booted out. And, without exception, the end result is always better. The best ad copy isn’t something that’s just magically appeared out of thin air on the screen or page; it’s something that has been crafted and finely honed over time.
7. Windows in a glass of their own
Puns can be good. Puns can work. I’m not averse to opening a piece of copy with a nice catchy pun. Especially if it spills fairly effortlessly out of the headline.
Just don’t overdo it. If you’re trying to sell windows, don’t crowbar every window pun known to man into five lines of body copy. Because, sooner or later, it gets in the way of the communication – eventually, it filters out the message you’re trying to convey.
8. Make. Every. Word. Work
Probably touched on this already. But, every word in a piece of ad copy should be doing a job. After all, it’s not like there’s much space for copy normally. I think I read somewhere once that the best newspaper headline they’d ever seen was ‘Beatle John shot dead’, because it told you everything you need to know in just four words. In the same way, if you’ve got words not adding something, words not performing a function, you’ve got to be brutal and ask yourself: ‘Why are they there?’ If you can’t think of a good reason, get rid.
9. And, yes, it’s okay to start sentences with ‘And’
Better cover this off, seeing as this is where it all started. Forget everything anyone’s ever told you about not starting sentences with ‘And’ or ‘But’ or any kind of conjunction. You’re in advertising now, it doesn’t matter. You are not required to adhere slavishly to overly prescriptive grammatical rules. With ad copy, the first thing that goes out the window is grammar. All that matters is getting the message across. All that matters is communicating in the most effective and most persuasive and most compelling way. And if that means starting your sentence with ‘And’, you go for it.
10. with a call to action. Finish
Simple enough, really. But don’t forget to give the reader something to do. A call to action is an absolute pre-requisite of any piece of advertising copy. You’ve got to make them do something. You’ve got to encourage the reader to act. Give them a response to complete. Make them pick up the phone. Email for more information. Go to the website. Send for a brochure. Visit instore. Order one today. Order two even. Hell, knock yourself out, order the lot…
14 February 2011 - Advertising
You’d have to have been abroad or in prison for the last couple of months not to have seen the BT Vision trailers on TV, featuring the song ‘Windmills of Your Mind’. I know I’m old but what a great song. Originally sung by Noel Harrison and used as the theme to the Thomas Crown Affair movie. It’s been in my iTunes for as long as I can remember.
How many songs must there have been that have become ‘hits’ as a result of being featured in TV ads? And, how many TV ads have been made successful not least as a result of using a great song?
In a ‘High Fidelity’ kind of way, here’s my top 10 songs in TV ads [although there must be hundreds I’ve forgotten about]…
1] Spaceman – Babylon Zoo [Levi Jeans]
2] Feeling the Love – Reactor [Lynx Deodorant]
3] Inside – Stiltskin [Levi Jeans]
4] The Universal – Blur [British Gas]
5] More than a feeling – Boston [Barclaycard]
6] Jerk it out – Caesars [Apple iPod Shuffle]
7] Wicked Game – Chris Isaak – Jaguar X-Type
8] Unbelievable – EMF [Muller]
9] Main Offender – The Hives [Agent Provocateur]
10] Jump Around – House of Pain [Caffreys]
And no, I didn’t forget about ‘Heard it through the Grapevine’, but I’ve already got two Levi ads in my top 10.
14 February 2011 - Advertising
Forget fat opera singers and gorillas playing drums. Forget debonair Russian accented meerkats and Thunderbird puppets in reaction lenses. Forget mega-budgeted, multi-faceted, multi-layered, wholly integrated marketing campaigns that go above the line, below the line, online, up, down and all around the line.
Sometimes, all you need to get your message across is a football scarf.
It’s amazing to me how the football the humble football scarf has undergone something of a revival in recent times.
Not so long ago, you wouldn’t catch any self respecting football fan within the length of your average footy pitch of one. The last time a scarf was ‘in’ was back during the seventies when wearing it round your wrist or tucked into your hip was very much de rigueur. Right up there with half-mast flared jeans, Doc Marten 14-hole boots and those ‘Bay City Rollers’ style black V-neck three-star jumpers.
That’s the way it stayed for a good thirty odd years.
Then along came Mr Mancini.
With his light blue scarf tucked adroitly around neck and inside overcoat, the fortunes of the football scarf were revived almost overnight.
But, forget its burgeoning credibility in the fashion stakes for a moment. Even before the Italian style guru’s arrival on the scene, the scarf was beginning to take on a whole new symbolism and meaning on the terraces. Not merely a sign of your affiliation to a particular club anymore, in recent times the scarf has morphed into a very effective and impactful marketing and messaging tool.
Look at the green and yellow scarves worn by Man United fans – a vivid and highly visible symbol of fan disapproval at the club’s American owners for the way they’ve funded their ownership and investment by placing the world’s biggest and best known club in debt.
At my own club, though on a much more modest scale, we’ve gone down a similar route. Exasperated at how the current impoverished board have knocked back investor after cash-rich investor without providing one genuine reason why, the fans have lost patience and now supporters of all ages can be seen on the terraces sporting a rather fetching two bar-style gold and black number – a throwback to the club colours of the 1950’s. It’s quickly become the highly recognisable symbol of the desire for change at the club: black and gold until it’s sold.
Yes, there’s a supporting website, laying out the case. Yes, there’ll be leafleting at games. Yes, there’ll be protests with placards and banners. Yes, there’ll be public relations campaigns waged through the local press, radio and TV.
But, for me, there’s nothing quite so powerful, potent or eloquent as walking into a football ground and laying eyes on a sea of black and gold scarves.
An otherwise silent majority having their say.
14 February 2011 - Advertising
Recently, the commercial and marketing director of the football club I support was famously – or more accurately, infamously – quoted as saying:
‘Why do we need to promote the new season tickets? They’ll buy them anyway.’
The ‘They’ he was referring to being the supporters of the aforementioned football club, naturally.
While there’s something within me that understands where he’s coming from – namely, that football fans are a unique breed of customer that will keep purchasing the product irrespective of how utterly rubbish it gets – this statement did also serve to demonstrate only too well the stupefying lack of commercial and marketing nous at the very heart of many football club boardrooms up and down the country. The breathtakingly blinkered and short-termist approach to growing a business.
Yes, he’s right in one respect. There are some existing supporters who will loyally buy the product, and carry on reaffirming that loyalty, regardless of how bleak the outlook for the club for the upcoming season. After all, they are fans; that’s what fans do.
But, what this so-called commercial and marketing director completely fails to appreciate is that his laissez fair methods of marketing and ticketing sales will apply to only a proportion of the existing fan base, and do absolutely nothing to attract new customers and increase revenues.
Surely, for a football club, any over-arching marketing and commercial strategy worth its salt should have three central prongs:
One, seek to improve existing fan base loyalty.
Two, expand the fan base with lapsed and new customers.
Three, acquire new commercial customers.
Of course, as ever with football clubs, fortunes on the pitch might well compensate for some of the commercial deficiencies off it. But with this ‘We don’t need to do any marketing; they’ll buy them anyway’ attitude seemingly so deeply ingrained at board level, it is difficult to see anything for the club I’ve supported since knee high but ever dwindling attendances and an ever-contracting fan base. Which, in turn, means less revenues, a smaller playing budget and an ever-downward spiral of inexorable decline.