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The Drum

Stop! I have important news.

…is about ideas. Ideas that make people think, make people smile, make people laugh, make people change the way they behave. It’s about creativity. Creativity in advertising and design. Creativity in the field of poetry, literature and screenplays. It’s about art. Sharing it, discovering it. Trying to understand it. It’s about getting things done. Not waiting for someone else to do it, or relying on someone else to get it done for you. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I have over 25 years experience in the ad industry working for agency brands such as: DDB; TBWA; BBDO; O&M and McCann’s as a CD / AD / CW. I have won over 100 awards, including Cannes; D&AD; One Show; Campaign and Epica. For brands such as: VW; Audi; Carlsberg; Black & White Whisky, Smirnoff, Coors, Cadbury’s; Coca-Cola; Heinz; Peugeot; Nissan and Meteor to name a few.

I’m also a published writer, I was short listed for the Independent on Sunday Short Story Competition in 1997. My short story, “Woman’s Best Friend”, also appears in the IOS New Stories published by Bloomsbury.

My poetry has been widely published in Ireland, Britain and the US in anthologies and periodicals such as: The U.S. Literary Review, Envoi, Cyphers, Electric Acorn, W.P. Monthly, Lifelines 3, The Haiku Quarterly and The Amnesty International Anthology: Human Rights Have No Borders.

I am the author of six feature length screenplays, six short films, a collection of short stories, a poetry collection and my first novel which contains 85,000 words, some of which are in the correct order.

There are 3 basic types of visual communications:

A. Those we have to consume.

B. Those we choose to consume.

C. Those we are coerced into consuming.

A. Those that we have to consume include: traffic signals, warnings, emergency services etc. We are legally obliged to follow their instruction. They tend to be symbolic in nature. Quick and to the point. No faffing about.

Usually the consumer of the message doesn’t have time for fancy wordplay and imagery. Nor is it needed. You don’t have to coerce someone if the alternatively is a hefty fine or a few weeks in the pokey.

B. The second type of communications are those that we choose to consume such as books, films, tv, music, internet, etc.

You may say movies advertise (coerce) using posters and TVCs, but they don’t usually go beyond the actual content of what you will be viewing. So, in essence, it’s still a personal choice as the content in each case will be unique.

In a sub-category to this are newspapers and magazines.

What people choose – The Sun or The Guardian usually depends on personal taste, moral and ethical viewpoint and social class. There is a large element of coercion with these types of media as they are usually competing against similar products. As you will see with publications like Hello, OK, Grazia etc. Or The Sun, The Star and The Mirror.

C. The third type of communications are those that the consumer is coerced into consuming, such as advertising. We interrupt what people choose to consume with our sales messages. People think they are making a choice but if we used only the methods described in Type A, that would be monologue. (You see this method used more in retail advertising.)

If we only use Type B then you have purely content – no differentiation. (Most brands aren’t in the privileged position of being unique.)

So we have to opt for a different method which may incorporate elements of Types A and B. But alone they aren’t enough. A lot of brands products and services can’t differentiate from their competitors.

This is where creative strategic planning comes into play. Finding that unique insight that blends brand truth with consumer necessity.

Learn from what people choose to consume. Learn from what people have to consume. Learn about your brand. Learn about the market. But most importantly, learn how to make your client’s brand as important to them as their favourite book, movie or friend.

Then make it fit tighter than a sado-masochist’s jim-jams.