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FEATURE1 June 2009

60 Second Soapbox – Vanella Jackson

The product I’m most excited about…
My new MBT trainers. They promise to tone my calves, exercise my thighs and give me a flat tum and a tight butt, all without a visit to the gym. The miracle of science.

A client I’d like to get my hands on…
If had to pick a dream client it would have to be the 2012 Olympics. I think it is fantastically exciting having the Olympics here in London. It gives us all something to look forward to and be proud of. I can’t wait.

An idea I wish I’d had…
Facebook. A simple idea that combines technology with an eternal human truth, that we are all social beings and we like talking to each other and being in a community. We always have and we always will.

A campaign that grabbed me recently is…
Sony ‘Foam’ for Cybershot. This campaign is a fine example of how to plan a truly integrated campaign, achieve maximum media impact and generate additional media value. It seeded the campaign with a spectacular event involving the streets being filled with foam. People got themselves covered from head to foot in the stuff. They took pictures and uploaded them on to Flickr and YouTube. The event was covered by News at Ten and all this before the ad even made it out of the cutting room. The ad was then watched on YouTube all over the world and people passed it on to their friends. A real example of harnessing the power of social media and the brilliance of planning and thinking in a transmedia way.

A campaign that needed more research…
The ad against illegal imported medicine, the one with a rat being extracted from the back of someone’s throat. It was unforgettable, but only for its hideousness and deliberate desire to shock. I know, from my advertising days, that shock tactics can be the fastest way to change behaviour. But this is simply so disgusting and sensationalist that the real message and the seriousness of the issue are lost.

One thing this industry could use less of…
Complexity. As an industry we like to show a lot of complex workings out. Like my daughter in her 11 Plus exams, we think it will earn us extra marks. In my experience with clients, it does not. What they want is simple, honest advice about the issues that concern them. The other thing we all like to do is define what we do by research methodology. We have forgotten that what we really do is simply have conversations with people, tell our clients what we find out and what to do as a consequence. Today there are more and more ways to have conversations with people. It is time let go of our methodological definitions and simply focus on being an expert on what people say, think and do and how this can help our clients.

In five years’ time we’ll be talking about…
We will be asking ourselves why we cared more about celebrities than about the fact that the way we live our lives is unsustainable. We will be talking about the impact of global warming and sustainability and it will have become a more central issue for brands. Also why we let technology that was supposed to liberate us make us all work faster, although not necessarily better. We are experiencing a fundamental shift in our values, and this is being accelerated by the recession. In five years’ time we will have emerged from this downturn with a very different view of what we value in our lives, our community and society.

One thing never to forget…
Keep it simple.

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