Tag Archives: advertising

What can PR learn from advertising? – a conversation with Mick Greer

What can PR learn from advertising
What can PR learn from advertising? A great deal according to Mick Greer, says advertising man Mick Greer


Mick Greer has an impeccable record in advertising.

He has worked for Saatchi & Saatchi of course, Lowe, BBDO and McCann Erikson in the UK and abroad.  Mick ran his own agency in Sydney.  His campaign experience includes Vodaphone, Coca Cola, BP and Cathay Pacific.  And he is even going to work on a project with me in the new year – an undoubted highlight.

So down to business:

What can PRs learn from advertising professionals?

Too many PR stories, I believe, don’t have the compelling hook.

You only have a second to engage your audience.  Sure PR has its moments of brilliance, but we are talking about using a small moment time to hook your readers.  Are PRs measuring up?  I am not sure they appreciate that the window of opportunity to engage with their audience is so, so small.

Do you remember The Sun’s “Up yours Delores” and “Stick it up your Junta” headlines?

Alright, you might not be a Sun reader, but at least it understands its audience and writes accordingly and reels them in.  If you don’t believe me why has it got over  four million readers?

So what makes a campaign a success?

Well, you cannot tell if a campaign is going to be a success.

The Cadbury’s gorilla campaign was amazing.  The creatives and more so the client were brave to put that forward and make it work.  It had a touch of genius.

But ask me why and I cannot tell you.

It comes down to: Is advertising an art or science?  It is the perennial debate.   I have found intuition can be a powerful way of guiding your efforts and should not be discounted.  I do my research thoroughly just to let you know and build my creative work from there.

What I can say is understand the issues, think about the problem and then work harder at the solution.

Social media will badly affect traditional advertising, an accepted wisdom, right?

No, I don’t think so.

Traditional media will not go.  Internet devotees are still pushing the myths that the Internet is the only game worth noting and that you hold it in awe at all times.

You know that more people listen to radio than MP3 players or that more people (in the US) are watching TV than they did 5 years ago?  Traditional advertising spaces on well patronised spaces are still there in abundance.

It all means the Internet, although attractive for advertising revenue, is still one of a number of options.

The point I want to make though it that with the Internet as well as traditional channels, it is how you engage that is important.  What is the point of someone getting to your site and not being engaged?

It used to be get a site up, anything.  Then it was get them there.  Now it has to be let’s make our online communications so compelling they come back again and again and build a relationship with the brand.

Bill Hicks on advertising and marketing


How we need another Bill Hicks.  Am I the only person not interested in X Factor, celebrities being humiliated in inhospitable climates or how someone in a soap I have never heard of is doing ballroom dancing?  If you are like me listen to Bill Hicks, it will keep you sane.

And to the main event of the evening:

Now I am in PR so I don’t know if I am the subject of Bill’s fury here.  Sorry to all my marketing  and advertising friends – leave a comment, argue back, give me some content.

You might not agree with Bill, but if you check out his catalogue on YouTube or video you can see a rare intelligence.

And the lesson from all this?

If something really impresses you tell the world.

Microsoft’s Ballmer believes newspapers are a thing of the past

Microsoft managing director Steve Ballmer has argued that traditional media is doomed.

Speaking from the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, he said that advertising revenues for traditional media will not bounce back with a recovery.  Indeed he called this a “reset” and not a recovery, as this implies that things return to as they were.

The only question is how long print has got according to his arguments: as little as 10 years.  He argued that within this period all content will be consumed digitally.

Ballmer was unable to say how traditional media could cope in maintaining its current advertising revenue nor could he actually give a model of how digital could make substantial profits, bar a reference to Google.

It is a big statement, especially as his predecessor Bill Gates’ record with the Internet hardly matches up to his record with software.  And Ballmer gave no idea of how things might actually work in future, it all seems a little “attention grabbing” and “we have heard this all before.”

Where is the insight from the managing director of Microsoft?

There is no doubt that newspapers and magazines are facing challenging times and that some will not survive, but some of this must surely be down to the recession.

I believe Ballmer is in part right: print media is going to have to think long and hard, as is digital.  But the thing about predictions is they are often wrong, especially if you make them as absolutes.  Thankfully I am not in the prediction game.

Yes, print media is facing unprecedented challenges and will need to adapt – it might be much reduced in size within a few years.  Yes, some print and digital will disappear as the environment changes but I would be surprised if newspapers are not with us at all in 10 years.

As one of the comments left (and this is one of the polite ones) from MediaFace says: “I’m prepared to place a hefty wager with Mr Balmer that I will still be buying newspapers on a Sunday.  Along with a good few million others.”

Adverts that aim to get PR

I saw an interesting program about advertising that explored the ability of advertising to generate PR in national publications.

One instance was Kate Moss’ tongue in cheek TV ad about getting the most exciting contract of her career according to her agent, as he signed her up to Virgin mobile.  This all happened after Kate had been involved in a scandal about her cocaine taking.

The advert only ran three times on TV according to the program, but generated a lot of PR coverage for Kate and Virgin.

PRs are adversaries more often than not of traditional advertising agencies.  You can find plenty of references comparing PR to advertising on Google.

The interesting thing was how clever advertisers use the advert with the PR in mind, knowing the extra value it creates.  But even though creativity and extreme or offensive advertising ideas can be used in this aim, it is not an exact science.  Still just a thought….

Banksy: guerrilla graffiti practitioner


You might have heard or seen the work of Banksy, the satirical and very sharp Bristol graffiti icon.  It is worth having a look at more of Banksy’s creative work.

As I was flicking through the above link I came across this image.  So my idea discussed below is sort of original, a dog and a cow are not exactly the same and anyway dogs hit a better demographic and are more mobile.

NW Business Insider and dog advertising


NW Business Insider had a wonderful piece on the dog advertising concept in their current feature on guerrilla marketing.

I originally came up with this concept after selling in the story of a certain dog called Dante in to the South Manchester Reporter. The story of the curry loving pooch spread to the Metro, Manchester Evening News and even The Guardian.

It seemed obvious that there was original and possibly effective advertising mileage to be had and so I teamed up with Mick Greer and Phil Howells, well- seasoned advertising pros.

The lucky recipient was a family lawyers called Greens & Co.

It is some fun but also when there is so much competition to grab our attention it is a little different and attention grabbing.

A quick note: Has no-one done it before? I don’t know. Churchill said an original idea is just a good one everyone has forgotten.


Using Images for SEO and online search marketing by delivering it through PR should be a key consideration for public relations professionals and their tactics.

Read more about coming 12th out of over 37 million entries for advertising on Bing and around 100th on Google for over 14 million entries for “advertising” here.

“Father of advertising” David Ogilvy biography

David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy – a marketing and advertising pioneer but his approach still rinsg true

BBC4 showed and is showing a biography of David Ogilvy – “the father of advertising.”

It is quite a story as David Ogilvy was approaching 40 when he set-up his ground breaking and highly successful agency Ogilvy and Mather.  Within a few years he had Shell, Lever Brothers and Rolls Royce as accounts.  Billings were over $100m after 10 years in business.

David Ogilvy’s career was built upon a number of disparate experiences that he drew upon, from AGA cooker door to door salesman to farmer in Amish country.

If you have time it is well worth finding out about this media icon, even if the biography just creates a greater a enigmatic view of David Ogilvy for you.

BBC 4 finds winner with advertising programme spree

BBC 4 is showing some really interesting programmes on advertising (repeated on BBC 2).

Mad Men is being hailed in critical circles as a brilliant drama exposing the glamour and the seedier side of the advertising business in early 60s New York.  It also shows the transition from consumers taking admen and their work at face value to having to be more creative and honing their art to really communicate with their audience – just think how creative you have to be to catch someone’s attention these days.

The history of advertising documentaries that follow the industry from the 50s to the present are insightful and really hold your attention.  How the ads worked, why some great ideas actually resulted in a drop in sales – Strand cigarettes – and how an industry that started with many chancers  – not all – reached a peak in the 80s with Saatchi and Saatchi thinking they were so powerful they could buy the Midland Bank.

In the manner of Points of View: well  done BBC

PR v advertising

I was in Waterstones on Saturday and came across the advertising section. I have to say I was impressed. The quality of ideas is tremendous.

Nothing new there. However, advertising is sometimes seen as the arch rival of PR for budgets.

It is nothing new for me to hear that a company has spent thousands on advertising with no result and they might as well have given it away.

It is easy in a pitch to acquiesce and concede the point and that PR is wonderful and highly cost effective.

The point for me is that if advertising is creative and well targeted it can work well. It can really grab a reader’s attention. There is no need to see advertising as a rival. Indeed, the impact of some of the advertising campaigns I leafed through could teach the PR profession a thing or two.