Friday, 17 October 2008

turn left where the telephone box used to be

Thought it might be nice to record the Stage 1 IPA talks for selfish future referencing and for anyone else interested. They are a series of talks that aim to cover some of the essential truths of the communications industry. My posts will be pithy and I'll add bits in sometimes, esp. if there's a jump-off to psychology.

The first one was by industry legend Jeremy Bullmore. Here's his talk, triple-distilled:
  • A man asks for directions to a shop in a small town. The postman tells hims to go up the road and turn left where the telephone box used to be.

    Why has the postman failed in his communication? Because he makes the assumption that the listener knows what he knows. Or rather, he fails to appreciate the listener's knowledge is not the same as his. This lacks a word in English but it's something like empathy. Psychologists, however, do have a term for this faculty, theory of mind. Using clever methods - like the Sally/Anne task - it is possible to see this mental trick coming online around the age of four in developmentally typical children. Autistics never master this. The point: communicators need a theory of mind - or the ability to see events through the eyes of those they are communicating to - in order to be successful.

  • Passive audiences were never passive. Audiences have always actively understood communications, it's just that before digital they never had a way to express it; digital makes stuff that has always happened explicit.

  • There are no such things as messages. There are stimuli and responses. 

  • The best creativity elicits the best contribution from the receiver (the artist rules his subjects by turning them into accomplices)

  • There is no dichotomy between creativity and effectiveness in communications. Effectiveness is the end; creativity is the means.

  • Advertising creativity makes client's money go further. Anything outside of that definition is not creativity.

  • Brand body language is what people read. When the body language doesn't match the communication, there's a problem. 

  • Good brands make you feel safe, they release you from anxiety (mostly likely because of problems with information in market economies)

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