By Stephen Lepitak | -

Ogilvy & Mather Group UK

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rory sutherland article

December 3, 2014 | 2 min read

Ogilvy & Mather’s vice chairman, and The Drum’s top person in UK advertising for 2014, Rory Sutherland has defended ‘ineffective’ adverts, claiming that even those can be memorable.

Speaking during an interview with Render Positive chief executive, Jon Buchan, Sutherland spoke about many issues, including social media advertising, frustrating client briefs, content stunts and advertising in general.

Asked why most advertising ‘generally sucks’ by Buchan, Sutherland came to the defence of the industry, claiming that there were “some pretty extraordinary people” working within digital advertising especially, adding that their roles were incomparable with creatives writing poetry or film scripts.

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“Where I think there’s a bigger problem is that unfortunately, nobody really understands how advertising works. The assumption is it’s all about messaging and the provision of information or argument or rational persuasion,” explained Sutherland.

“The actual truth of the matter is advertising mostly works through the inference of the recipient, what inferences they draw from what you say, not what you yourself say explicitly. And this distinction between proposition and takeout has overtaken and just become a dominant model in and among the people who judge advertising, the people who commission advertising and also the people who research advertising to an extent. If you think about it, it’s all about does this single minded message that we have decided on in advance get absorbed and understood by the people who watch it. The amount of attention paid to that in relation to the emotional effect that the communication has on people and the effect it has on people’s unconscious, the ratio of attention of those two things is completely out of whack and that’s really the problem," he added.

Sutherland was top of The Drum’s Adverati list last month, where he was named as the most influential person in UK advertising for 2014.

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