We have to make news, not ads

We have to make news, not ads

Good creative and media buying isn't enough, real cut through comes from making work that makes the news, writes JWT London's ECD.

As a creative it’s always a weird feeling seeing something your agency is famous for being taken and used by the public.

Following Monday's news of a royal baby you guys in the British public did what you do best, took your sense of humour and sarcasm to the online world and started making jokes. As a foreigner this is one of my favourites of your many wonderful traits.

Anyway, one of these posts said: "Have a break, have a kid Kate." It has more than 70,000 Retweets and made the headline of one of the world’s most-read news sites 

On the one hand you’re proud that your 87-year-old line is not only known by the public at large, but is fresh enough to still resonate. On the other you think "fuck, we should have thought of that".

However, putting my insecurities aside, what this really shows is that as an industry, while we sit here day-in day-out creating our messages and buying our media space – the real cut-through and reach comes when you hit the top of the news cycle. 

And this tweet’s popularity feels like vindication of something I have come to believe. You can’t just make ads anymore; to make an impact you have to make the news. 

It won’t come as a shock to anyone that we live in the most distracted generation of all time. In our social feeds, our online content, walking down the street or glancing at a TV in the office canteen, there are distractions everywhere. And with that context we expect our push messages to make an impact – to make it to the top of that pile. Feels a little naive.

You can be the most entertaining, the most creative, the most lauded in the industry but without being the most talked about across the nation you won’t get that cut through – and to achieve that you need to make the news cycle.

News outlets are the best curators of what people are talking about, what they want to hear and what they want to share. So if the work we create is disruptive enough or touching enough or relevant enough or smart enough to be picked up by the news then there is a great chance its good enough to cut through the distractions.

And with every outlet having its own bias and personality, with clever thinking and the right approach you can align your brand to the right outlet to the right type of news – driving even better relevance.  

But it’s not just about reactive moment marketing, its about aiming for this with all of our collective campaigns. One of the major strengths of our "Ash to Art" campaign for the Glasgow School of Art (which took more than two years from start to finish) was the blanket news coverage we achieved across important news sites and a host of broadcast outlets.

But, as always, it’s obviously easier said than done. You need a lot of the right ingredients to get into the news cycle. You need your own feel for what makes the news sit up and take notice, you need to give them enough of a reason to put a brand in the news (they are often very cynical to this) you need to instil this desire to work and think differently throughout your business and you need a client brave enough to do it, after all, it’s easier to come up with a great idea than it is to sign it off.

Not every campaign is going to make it into the news – but if we shoot for it we’ll still end up making work that will get people talking, thinking and feeling in ways they haven’t before.

Lucas Peon is executive creative director at J Walter Thompson London

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