Rebirth of advertising: Kris Hoet at TEDxLiege

Rebirth of advertising: Kris Hoet at TEDxLiege


Translator: Claire Ghyselen
Reviewer: Denise RQ Thank you. The “Rebirth of advertising.” I hear you think already: “Why would something
like advertising need to be reborn?” You are probably happy
that it is about to die soon. So I’m hopefully going to convince you that it is actually worth
looking at advertising as something that can be reborn,
and that it’s actually pretty interesting. And to do so, I’m going
to show you no advertising, there’s going to be no ads
in this whole presentation. I’m going to hopefully show you
a theory, a way of thinking, that shows that advertising
can be exciting and then you go home and say: “I like that, I’m going to look
for those cases that are actually proof of this theory.” There is a special reason
also, why I think that here in Belgium, we are on the verge,
or we will be a big significant part of where this rebirth
of advertisement will come from. Just as it was mentioned before, The Cannes Lions is the one
big international advertising festival; it is rewarding the best cases in creative or innovative advertising from all over the world. If you look at all
the Cannes Lions per capita, and you draw the map again
based on these numbers, you can actually see that
(French) “this flat country of mine” is actually pretty big, so we’re doing really, really well
in rethinking advertising today already. Maybe not yet in technology innovation, but we’re already doing really well
compared to other markets. Look at the United States; it’s somewhere up there, the small one. So we should be proud of what we do. So then, how come that advertising has become something
that we think is so ugly? To do that, I’m going to go back in time
and tell you a bit of a history story. It’s not going to be a lecture, but I want to tell you something about how it has become what it is today. If you think about
its situation a long time ago, shops and consumers
in a business would be very similar. If you go back long enough,
we would actually be the same. We’d all be producing things
that we would use to trade with somebody else
who would make something else. We would be consumers for each other. But then, we’ve started working
for other person’s business that was growing up,
and the situation changed. But we still see it sometimes today. If you go into this small shop
around the corner in your own town, or village, or city, you will be there in this place,
where the shop owner will know you and will tell you
when he sees you coming in: “You know, that magazine
that you like, it’s just coming in.” And because they know there are only a few [issues]
coming in every month, he keeps one aside for you
because he knows you like it. This is what we like. But it has changed
because businesses grew. The relationship between businesses and us, as consumers,
has changed over time. It became a lot more difficult
for consumers to go back to a business to basically complain or ask something. And this is a good example:
if you want to telephone any big company here
in the country, or anywhere, it takes you a bit of time
to find a telephone number, only then to land on a number where you have to dial 1,
and then 5, and then 7, and then it looks like
you end up at the start again. It is all pretty annoying. But the businesses gained more power in talking to us,
as consumers, all together. And [it’s] much easier for them. Then, advertising was invented. And it became worst. This relationship was twisted. The relationship became such that because of the power of advertising
and the size of the business, these became several departments, and the people who came up
with the story saying: “This is what our product is good for,” have no connection with the people
who actually made the product. Also, it wasn’t really necessary
for a strong link to exist between what the product
actually did and what we say it did because we can make enough noise
about it to make that change happen. Luckily, technology came along. There are two big major changes
that I think have impacted this, and it has brought us to a new balance. The first thing is we created technology
that helped us ignore advertisement, or that helped us skip advertisement. We made technology
that’d literally help us consume content as if there were no advertising in there, we had ways to record and skip it, or we would download it
so there is nothing involved. We’ve found our ways around it. This is a little bit
of a short term solution, but we’ve found one. The more important thing is that through technology,
we’ve started to network. I don’t mean through Facebook. I mean that people with similar interests,
with similar information requests, started to find each other. Actually, through the Internet, you might have a really strange hobby, but all of a sudden, you would find out
there are other people in the world with that same hobby as yours who are looking for the same products,
or who are using the same products, or who are having the same issues
that you would have. Basically, as consumers, we would scale up in a very different way
than businesses would. Through these technology changes, there is a new kind of balance
between the business and us. And we don’t really understand
what that balance is about, it’s not a single line as it used to be – because there are a lot more people
and a lot more complexities involved – but it’s definitely there. And it’s interesting because although the technology behind it
is being invented by the same businesses, the way this technology is being used
and these networks created, is something that we,
as consumers, have done; businesses haven’t done that. There are two reasons for that:
first of all, why would they change? They were in charge, so that’s easy. The second is that whenever
big businesses try to innovate, its immune system kicks in,
it fights against innovation, because it’s not really a natural thing
for most companies to do. It’s a very logical thing to say how come that Skype was not invented
by a large telecommunication company? Why wasn’t Spotify invented
by a large player in the music industry? It seems logic, they have
all the resources, and the labs, and the invention people
to make up these things, and yet, they did’t. They came from the outside
because of this innovation bias. So, you have the technology
that has changed, there is this new kind of balance, and yet, brands are doing
very different things with that. It’s like the epic split of advertising. At one hand, you have things like Nike that develops things like Nike+, which really taps
into this need of consumers, and into the way people are networked and how they are creating
value amongst each other. It’s very interesting. And you have other brands, that are thinking that the network
means Facebook, and that you have to do very stupid
Facebook updates to advertise, then you will go “like” them, as you need to share
that with your friends. So you’ll get things like: “Share if you’re excited
about the sunny weekend!” Or KLM will post an update
with the Eiffel Tower in a photo, and then the letters: “P-R-S,” and asks you: “Which city this is?” So, this is what advertising has become if you [go to that part] of the spectrum. Yes, the situation has changed.
This is very interesting. But not everybody
is doing interesting things. How come? Not only there is a new balance, but it means we should really redefine
how advertising is today. My definition of advertising
today is the following: I think advertising is about
enabling stories to be told, whether it is brand stories,
product stories, consumers stories, but that’s what advertising should be. What does that mean? It means that it starts with a product, it should fulfill a brand’s purpose, and it should be delivered through
storytelling and social currency. Now, that’s a little bit quick. Let’s go back: it starts with a product. Since that new balance is there, what the product actually does,
and how it is communicated, are linked up again. You cannot just say, “Our coffee is this
and this” when it’s not really true, but we can make so much noise about it
nobody can really do anything about it, and we all buy this coffee. So it really starts with the product. The advertising is not a layer on top, with smart communication folks
to figure it out. We need to think about that because it means
that we need to think differently about where the advertising
starts in our organization. It’s an opportunity. The winning products today are not just products
with great communication or great ads. They are just great products. It needs to fulfill a brand’s purpose. So when we founded
Duval Guillaume 18 years ago, we created this exercise called “hero-brand,” in which we were looking for
what a brand’s game is. And the game is really
what is being popular today as the brand’s purpose. What is the brand role in society? How is it going to make my life better? And not just how and why
I am going to buy this product, but we need to figure out
why it’s going to make my life better. Google is making money
with advertising, mainly from search. It’s trying to organize
all the world information for me to use it and become better at it. Or Nike [that] believes
we can all be athletes. And they obviously have
the tools to do that, the gears, and also the Nike+. But they have that strong believe that we can all find
this greatness in ourselves and become better people. If a brand has a clear vision
on how they want to be better for society, and build products for that, it is much easier to advertise. Then, we believe that advertising
splits into two areas: storytelling and social currency. Social currency means it is giving people
a story to tell to each other. Storytelling is where brands
will tell you a story. Lots of storytelling
will happen in a traditional space, it’s a bit more one-way, but yet, there are a lot of things
we can do to improve that. Social currency is
a newer kind of advertising. This is where we do things, where we hope
that you will take them away and talk about them with your friends. It’s very important there is no control in this second part. In storytelling we are in control,
we have this message, we make it as beautiful
as possible, as true as possible. There’s a lot of advertising
that doesn’t really do that. But let’s do that, communicate it
through media, whatever it is. Social currency [is] “let’s do something that we hope will trigger
people to talk about it.” The storytelling is where I am,
as a brand, respectful to you, and the social currency is
“I earn respect as a brand because I am showing that I really care,
that I really do things. And it’s very important
to keep the “no control” part here. If we try to control the uncontrollable, we break the system. What you see on this graph, is the organic reach
from all Facebook pages, over the last 6 months. So, an average page
will have an organic reach from around 12%, 6 months ago, and it will have 6% right now. If it’s a huge page
with over half a million fans, this will be from 4% to 2%. So it’s not only Facebook
which is being smart, and wants us all to buy more ads, to get people to see the content. It’s also because we wanted
to control the system, we wanted to control
all the content on there, for people to see and to share
that we broke it. People don’t really believe
pretty much any content that is there, apart from their friend’s. That’s unfortunate. So we need to rethink
how we are creating this advertising so it becomes a great social currency
or storytelling. And the good thing about it is we need to understand the consumer, but the again, it has never been easier to know what your consumer
wants, or needs, or says, or does. It’s not about launching more surveys, but if you already look
at all the data that is out there about what people are doing, and analyze the data, there is this incredible learning
you can get from it. There is a popular saying that says: if tomorrow, Amazon were
to launch a coffee industry, it would probably fail for 6 to 12 months and lose a lot of money. But after the 6 or 12 months,
they will succeed. One, because they will have
so much data they analyze day by day that it will be smarter
than you are at that point. Two, because they have
a different kind of thinking. Not in essence because
they are smarter as a business, but because they look
at things differently. Second, you need
to design for the networks. Nike+ is a very good example. Don’t forget, Nike+ was invented
by the advertising agency, it was not invented by Nike. It was about how we can communicate
a stronger [message] about this product, that we can relate to people’s lives, so that we can play a role in the network. Try to find what in the network
is relevant for your business. And I don’t mean the network
as in Facebook or Twitter, but try to find those nodes, doors, those common interests
and links between people, and try to play a role in that. Think about how you cannot unlink
the communication from the product. You cannot only do
a digital transformation in your communication. You cannot go from radio and print to Facebook and Twitter. The transformation needs
to go through all your business. The big businesses
that are kicking our ass right now are the ones that are rethinking
the whole system, the whole product,
the whole business all together, and not making another,
different claim in communication. Let’s go back to design. As Steve Jobs said: “Design is how it works,
not what it looks like.” You can clearly see it in this graph that shows the Dow Jones Index, or the design index, if you just take out all the companies that focus on design, that they score much better on total in creating value all together. So it’s a very successful thing to do. It’s not just making nice products that look nice for people. If you think about the whole design,
about how the user experiences it, about how people go through it, including your advertising
and communication, you get a more successful business. It’s proven by data. “Build to evolve”
instead of “build to last,” this is an example from Android
and it’s a good one. I thought the music earlier on
was even a better example in that you create something,
you start building, and the plan is that it evolves,
that you don’t immediately see an end, that you don’t make something ready
to last for another ten years because it will be outdated in a month. You make something
that is there, that can evolve. And do the same in your campaign. If you make a campaign
that says one thing, and needs to stay there
for the next three years, you will fail. You need to make a campaign
for which you’ve looked at the data, that is open in the way
you look at it, as a marketeer, so it can evolve over time. Think about the fact that ideas
can come from anywhere. I don’t mean crowdsourcing,
because I don’t believe in crowdsourcing; I think it’s asking the wrong question
to the right people. When you think about the fact that everybody can have
a good idea of your business, it’s not because you ask a 1,000 people: “What would be a good idea
for my business?” and they’ll come up with one. You need to listen
to your consumers to find out. Just don’t forget that,
even on the agency side, it’s not just the greatest team
that comes with the creative ideas, it’s the whole company all together. So try to find out these ideas that are relevant for you,
and for your advertising. And then, plan for the unknown. This is a very exciting graph,
I’ll explain it. This is the Super Bowl from 2 years ago,
and this is the Super Bowl all together. The show lasts for 5 hours, and this is the number of tweets
during the Super Bowl. The differences are
in the millions of tweets, if you go from second to second
throughout the whole show. So it’s very important to understand that we cannot even plan how people are paying attention
to one TV show that lasts 5 hours, and then we are making marketing plans that are defined
for the next 6 months or 3 years. That is just stupid. We’ve got to plan for the unknown; it means that we have
a clear purpose, a clear target, that we know what we want to get,
what we want to achieve, but the more we think in the future,
the more we keep it open so we can change things around. So unless you think about advertising as that annoying thing
that comes in between, that interrupts
your experience as a consumer, unless you think like that, I think it is a great time
to be in advertising. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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