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January 03, 2007



First, on 'Dirt is good'.

Admittedly, it oozes warmth, personality and charm - but there are a few problems:

1. Dirt isn't good when it doesn't come out. And it often doesn't. Particularly if you try activity no.1 suggested on the Persil website. And even when dirt does come out,it often takes a lot of time and effort. So this doesn't really 'resonate' with our actual experience of the product.

2. The campaign theme has been easily translated into a website. This allows 'conversation.' But is the website generating traffic and do people, in this particular case, want to 'converse?' In the rush to prove our web credentials, it's worth noting that some brands are more naturally suited to engagement/this medium. The appeal of brands in defining/transforming the user is first and foremost to help the buyer send a message to other consumers, rather than to the brand. And the best brands have always listened to consumers, in order to provide a relevant message - well before Berners-Lee was on the case.

Second, on the 'Account Manager' debate.

It's a shame when job titles take on such significance, because agencies probably work best when everyone has a touch of the 'generalist' about them. As WPP guru Jon Steel recently noted, the best pitches he has been in were the ones where the prospective client would have struggled to identify the planner, from the creative, from the acc. director etc. After all, successful account directors have a strategic side, and planning partners do well when they know the demands that an account manager faces. A nod to the 70's Dutch football team is probably a good thing. (Except the bit about losing finals).



Exactly Ollie.

And perhaps that's one of the reasons Persil is losing share hand over fist.



Oh dear. Another day, another bit of insidious bullying for account management. Makes you wonder why anyone chooses to do this job. But I suppose, in a way, that’s the point. Insecurity breeds bullies. And it’s hard for genuine creative thinkers not to feel insecure as their big ideas are exposed and judged every day.

Great account people, people who love great advertising, have to manage that as it can be the flip side of the creativity that drives the business that fascinates them. It’s part of creating a team out of egotists. A team without which effective advertising that delights clients and consumers is not possible.

And yes. Not all account people are great. We should all learn more; try harder; be better. But very few bullies in this business are actually talented enough for their behaviour to be in any way tolerated or tolerable. Enough.


I’m surprised you see our Red Account Man’s remarks in this light, flooz.

It struck me that he/she was making an excellent point about the planning community’s tendency to (usually implicitly, although frequently shamelessly explicitly) appropriate all the glory for what is usually called the strategy. (Witness the APG awards. Although there may be some reasons for entering them that justify doing so.)

Although she/he doesn’t make this point, I would suggest most ‘planning insights’ are post-rationalisations of something that emerged from the creative department, which itself came from a conversation with a TV producer who’d read a book that had been given to them by the barman, who’d had it recommended to them by a bloke in Traffic, who’d picked it up off an account manager’s desk.

In any case, as our Red Account Man would have it, although not necessarily in these words…

Strategies are bollocks unless they are made into ads (one of my gripes with the Richard Huntington position) and those ads are bollocks unless they find their way on to the telly.

But anyway flooz, thanks for stirring the debate.


Whether Account Management are good or bad is not the debate, and you can't generalise anyway.

The point is that, unfortunately, Account Management aren't getting the recognition they deserve. For example, when Campaign feature new work they credit the Planner, Creatives, Producer, Media Planner, Production Company, Editor and anyone else who has touched the ad, except account management. They never credit the person who saw the whole thing through from start to finish, who made the whole thing happen, who convinced a sceptical client to part with money, who pushed the creative team, helped develop the strategy, and so on.

On the flip side, Account Management are the first to be credited with anything that goes wrong, such as a missed playout date, an invoice being wrong, a typo on an ad, the client not buying the work, the list is endless.

So Account Management get the blame but none of the glory. It's tough, but does it matter?

Clearly it does. Firstly, it's demotivating, but more importantly undervaluing Account Management's role limits their influence.

This perception suggests that all the important stuff, stuff worthy of credit in campaign, happens outside of account management. Therefore Account Management don't need to worry about that, they just need to ensure things happen on time and on budget and that the client is happy.

Casting the role like this stops account management getting involved and taking responsibility for making the ad as good as possible: challenging the strategy and quality of the work; coming up with ideas; being an expert in new media; knowing current thinking on how ads work; knowing about film directors; looking at the websites our consumers are looking at, finding out about latest trends, and so on. All the stuff that's important to creating and selling great work.

Someone said that all Account Management had to do was buy time and sell work. I think this is misguided as they're part of the team that creates the work.


Simon were you an accoung man in a past life? You took the words fresh out of my mouth!! I, I on all of that!!


Or even aye, aye (detail being another prerequisite for creating and selling great work...


is that why you missed off your closing bracket flooz?


now getting back to the thread folks, what a shame that - between them - account men, planners, creatives, tv producers and agency tealadies were all unable to spot that real consumers don’t much like being taken for morons: i don’t know a single mum or dad who hasn’t spotted that “dirt is good” is a nakedly cynical strategy for selling washing powder, not raising budding michaelangelos.

maybe dirt is good if you’re a 23 year old washing powder ABM and you don’t have any kids, or any common sense. real people with real kids, on the other hand, tend not to enjoy running multiple loads of washing generated by picturesque offspring engaged in throwing worms about. they’re too busy trying to get their offspring washed, dressed, fed and dropped off at the childminder’s before they’re late for work again. and when they’re finally back from work, they certainly don’t have time to chat about their child’s artistic misadventures in branded chatrooms all evening; they’re too busy doing the washing.


I'm with you 100% (or nearly) bouncy, however there may be some learning to be had from the DIG campaign.

The key question for our future, I believe, is whether Richard's final observation is true. Can we build 'enagement brands', for want of a better term, in categories in which real people are not naturally interested? If not, what will we do when the interruption model is dead?


who says real people are not "naturally interested" in washing powder (or shaving gel, or widgets)? most people (especially those earning rather less than admen) are very interested when handing over cold, hard cash for anything, even if their interest lasts only for a fractional moment.

i do five loads of washing a week, and we don't even have any kids. that's a lot of detergent we're taking off tesco's shelves (and we're buying persil as it happens), so evidently we do have an interest (practical and financial) in the category, and evidently we've engaged with the brand somewhere along the line, even if the present advertising is driving us to a fury. (though that last issue is another post altogether).

DIG isn't wrong imo, it's just so feckin stooopid. when were you last "engaged" with a brand blatantly telling lies to advance its own self-interest? dirt *isn't* "good", ffs, unless perhaps you're a hippo. "dirt is shite, luckily persil isn't" is a little closer to the truth, and if they’d stuck to the truth about their brand and their category, i might be a little more inclined to applaud their strategy.


Ok. Maybe the term 'engagement brands' isn't helping.

What's more the issue is too important to be discussed at the end of a thread.

Later this week I'll pick this up again in a fresh post.


look forward to reading your new post on this john. currently my understanding of 'engagement brand' is "fake friendship concocted for the sole purpose of parting a consumer from her cash". i would have thought it was bloody obvious that a meaningful and productive dialogue between consumer and brand requires honesty and integrity on both sides, but this seems to have passed all the big FMCG brands, not just persil, by.


I was working on a detergent brand at the time DIG launched. It was a stain removal product that really, really did what washing powder ads had been claiming to do for years. We had a very similar inisght that was expressed much less elegantly, but now I'm thinking it avoided the ire that DIG has raised in here.

The simple insight is: with a detergent that really, really does the job (as guaranteed in scientific tests) you can relax about dirt. You can live your life without worrying about the consequences of getting mucky. It takes an everyday annoyance out of the way. So we had the same crappy vignette ads of kids jumping in puddles etc., but we were off the pace. DIG launched, and our campaign never saw the light of day.

Why share that? Well, "Dirt is Good" is obviously cleverer than "don't worry about things getting dirty cos you can now get them clean at the end so you can be a better mother by allowing yor kids to have guilt-free fun." But it's that extra clever twist that seems to have pissed everyone off.

We all know that the best strategies are simple. So why do we always feel the need to twist things and nod sagely through our German-designed rimless glasses? Is it to make absolutely sure everyone realises how clever we are? The fact that we might have been the first to spot an obvious idea isn't enough - we have to make out that it's an idea no-one else could have got to it at all which, as we see earlier in the thread, isn't true.

And another thing: our version just had kids splashing and playing about. Of course Persil - the brand that's always the first to disappear when an agency gets them all in for a competitive review - has to go all Grim Up North London on us. Healthy children don't want to piss about making mud pies. Thomas and Sophie would rather express their creativity using mixed media on canvas. Well, linen.

Finally: my first job in advertising was working on Daz, using the Daz "real ladies" in Danny Baker's Doortsep Challenge. Shit ads, shit campaign, no role for strategic thinking, all granted. But to echo bouncy's point, the women we spoke to were all very interested in washing powder and did scrutinise the results. Not because they were sad, downtrodden women with no lives, but because it was part of what they did - being a full time mum. It's about presentation. Do planners really care about what their powerpoint charts look like? Yes they do, because it's an external reflection of how well they do their job. And I daresay raising kids is a tad harder and a good deal more worthwhile than cutting and pasting that shot of queasily Aryan people grinning at each other on a beach from Gettyimages onto page 36 of your pres.


Apparently the art to good online debate is:
Say it how you immediately think it
Say it without 'crafting it'
Remove industry Jargon

I am going to base my posting on the above insights, add some words that will result in 'Charlie Brookers view' a forum to trade blows till the fire dies out....

Is it time for planners appraisals? John are you stuck for what to say and is this a way of judging who is hot and who is not? Is this a test?

Planners is this just a smoke screen for you to impress your boss.... is this a new equivalent to bringing in an apple for the teacher?

Why is everyone being so nice? We all know we are not, substantiated by the anon posting today on disgruntled UK employees..... with the slight exception of Bouncy.
By the way, I think I know who you are... and if you are who I think you are, I also know you are alot better at going for the jugular, so look forward to your next posting!

I, personally am more interested in 'raw' views on advertising and more importantly generally; rather than your quite apparent personal press conference (now that's a planner gripe but for another day)

Gloves on........ round 2


Before we ring the bell ABC, can I just clarify a couple of things.

First, by ‘personal press conference’, do you mean this blog? If that’s the case, and you’re not interested in it, let me know who you are and I’ll strike you off the circulation list. (I’m assuming that you work at Grey.) If, however, you wish to retain your anonymity, I’m sorry but you’ll just have to delete my mails. I’ve tried to find a way of blocking mails from specific individuals within this organisation, believe me, and I can’t make it work.

Second, if you’re interested in ‘raw’ views on advertising (whatever they are), why aren’t you expressing them? Like bouncy. If you don’t think this ‘personal press conference’ is the right forum, blogging software’s free.



I guess the whole DIG strategy is a good one from a creative point of view and appeals to creative types, but, if you are going to use a strategy as creatively cute as this then you had better have a bloody good product that backs it up.

Has anyone ever tried it out? I have. As sad as it may sound, (just curious rather than sad) I tested Persil, a supermarket own and a cheap frills one on 3 new white tee shirts. Washed them all separately with no other stuff in the drum (not natural thing to do but to give an equal footing to all) and all on the same settings.

Result: The Persil one was the worst out of the three. The best was the cheapest. Why? I don’t know – more bleach or chemicals may actually be worse to clothing after long periods of use, again, I don’t know.

The point is and I feel that this strategy is just not commercial and as such fails because of it.

Look around. Most mums do everything they can to keep their kids clean and if their washing pile is as big as the one in our house then can understand why.

Kids clothing is expensive these days, almost if not more than clothing for adults and who would want their kids to ruin the clothes? You may as well chuck the money down the drain???

Washing clothes is a chore and I don't know anyone who enjoys it. Perhaps if strategies were based on ‘time saving initiatives for mums’ or making-washing-a-fun -activity in some way (now there’s a challenge) then maybe, just maybe they would shift more product?

oakley sunglasses

he let someone bit on that.

true religion jeans

we are just confused with the idea.

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