War of the Words

13 Dec

Campaign’s War of the Words took place 8th December 2011 in Kings Cross. It’s a conference, but like…not a dull one. It’s a war between the best of the under 30’s from planning, creative, brands, and media. Which is why I was surprised to be invited to speak (representing the next generation of misfit planners). I’m not usually one for competitive public speaking, but I’m not one to turn down an opportunity either, so I obliged.

(I’m the girl)

We had just 15 minutes each to pitch our idea (to reverse the decline in favourability toward advertising) to a daunting crowd, with the winners of each round being voted on by the crowd – via cool electronic keypads (epic). To top things off, there were three lovely (if not slightly intimidating) judges to scrutinise our ideas. It was like X Factor for marketers. Justin Gibbons was our Dermot, and a great one at that. I was probably more like Jedward.

Any who, my arguement was that the advertising industry are too self-orientated, too self-obsessed. We’re all like “me me me” and we don’t even realise it. According to the Trust Equation (by Galford and Drapeau), this is the most important factor in trust, and it takes away from your trustworthiness…

Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy /


I believe that the advertising industry operates within its own make-believe bubble. And we tend to look within the advertising bubble (ad blogs, previous awards winners, etc) for inspiration for new ideas, when really that is the last place you should be looking. One of the biggest problems with living in this bubble is believing that people care a lot about your brand. When in reality, they do not. Fact.

Quite simply, we need to lower our Self-Orientation by thinking of the advertising bubble less, and the real world more. It’s not about thinking less of yourself. It’s about thinking of yourself less, and others more. If you use your eyes to look out and not to be looked into (Stephen Fry’s wise words), then people will trust you in return, and unexpected opportunities will open up.

My ideas to lower our Self-Orientation (in short):

1. Hire misfits (Avoid gravitating towards people like yourself and hiring clones, instead, hire people from outside the advertising bubble with fresh ideas who challenge you.)

2. Get “out and about” (Spend less time at your desk during working hours, and more time experiencing new things and talking to the people you’re trying to influence – not other advertising folk. Simple, but it’s rarely done).

3. Abolish the Case Study Video (While they are “nice” at times, they are the epitome of Self-Orientation – they’re advertising about advertising for advertising’s sake. This is a plea to the awards people: we MUST get rid.)

And to bring to life point 3 (and the general ridiculousness of advertising’s Self-Orientation), I played the Pink Ponies case study – a satirical take on the case study video. Friggin’ awesome.


This years winners included myself (planning), my pal Be Pringle (creative), the smart Ashish Pathak (brands), and the charming Oliver Deane (media). The ultimate winner of the day was Tony Jiang, who was the winner of Huff Po’s open mic section for the under 25’s. A very fitting end to an incredible day.

You can check out the highlights and interviews with the winners over at Campaign here.


2 Responses to “War of the Words”

  1. Tom Hopkins December 14, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Wow Nic, very hard to complement you on this without getting caught in a horrible logical self-referential loop about the article itself but well done. Love the trust equation.

  2. nicspic2608 December 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Thanks Tom! I was up second so I think I made the other speakers really conscious on the day of talking too much industry BS and showing case study videos. Oops!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: