Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey

I’ve been drawing this on random bits of paper in meetings for a few weeks now, and then I read Russell Davies’ post here on something similar (god, if only there was such a thing as an original idea…), so I guess it’s time to capture it properly…

…for the sake of calling it something, let’s call it ‘slow planning’.


Why do we try and achieve everything at once, all in one go?  Tracking immediate sales shifts after campaigns, then worrying about how far we’re going to drop off afterwards, and hoping that level is slightly above that which we started at…

Well, because of where we’ve come from.  In the mass media age, there was only one way to reach people with communications messaging; fast, and all at once

You didn’t drip a TV campaign through the year, you made sure everyone saw it, 3 times, in a two week period… a press ad went to everyone who bought that paper on that day… “it was ever thus”…

And we delivered messages to people in this way because the infrastructure demanded it; the costs of duplication and distribution meant that you only reaped rewards from the economies of scale represented by doing a lot of communications, and all at once.

The world is of course a lot different nowadays.  We don’t have to do everything all at once, because that which we create (advertising, of course, but also websites, any stuff people create on our behalf) lives on, online.  It doesn’t die as soon as it has aired.

For example, the BMW GINA video, below, has been posted up loads of times on a variety of different things that I’ve seen for months.  It’s had 3.8 million views on Youtube so far…

…but was added at the beginning of June.  It’s not a lot compared to a traditional TV campaign.  But then, it’s 4 minutes long, tells you far more about BMW than any 30 second ad ever could, and of course it continues to get more views.

Now imagine BMW had 60 videos out there like this.  Over time, people would come across them, watching them when convenient for them, not BMW.  And it would enhance people’s perceptions of BMW, and maybe just persuade them that here was a car marque they should look at next time they want to buy a car…

The same goes for anything that companies are producing now that give you a feel for what they’re like … so Blendtec’s Will it Blend, Cadbury’s gorilla (which on youtube was posted a year ago, yet people are still commenting on under the youtube clip) and so on.

The thing is, because of the mass media approach that every company (Newspaper owner, soap powder manufacturer has built their business on, marketing departments, procurement, even chief execs, are all geared up for all at once.  Deliver me sales results immediately.  Double brand awareness in three months.

No-one thinks they have the time to hang around and wait for these things to kick in.  But if they did, the effect of slow planning would be to get you to a better place after two years, than the ‘boom and bust’ of traditional communications would (and probably a lot more cheaply too).

Last thought: how do you measure it, and judge success.  Last night in a New York bar, I hooked up with Faris, who proposed that it might be about delivering shareholder value; let’s judge ourselves on long term value of the company.  Let your agency get paid in stock options, and let your marketing department get bonused on them too (long term of course, rather than the short term banking version… ’cause that didn’t really seem to work out well).

It takes a while, yes.  But slowly, slowly, catchy monkey… or, indeed, gorrilla.