Success is Not Subjective!

“It Worked.”
“So simple and so effective!”
“Clever advertising….”

These were just a few of the comments left by industry professionals on a LinkedIn post when someone shared a recent stunt undertaken by Revere London.

For those who haven’t seen the campaign (or clicked on the above link), Revere is a coach builders, known for its premium marque after market upgrades. They are a luxury company, appealing to those with deep pockets and deeper bank accounts – this is not to say they’re exclusive, but they certainly appeal to someone of certain financial standing. In that vein, their customers are discerning and image conscious.

In an effort to raise broader public awareness (and presumably wider appeal/desire), Revere set about creating a publicity stunt, spray painting the exterior of a car to appear as though a disgruntled ex had taken their frustrations out with a can of red paint with words like “cheater” and “hope she was worth it” scrawled across the body panels…

For a period, the public believed this was an act of revenge by an ex, however when it came to light that this was indeed a publicity stunt and the industry commentary ensued, I wanted to do nothing more than introduce my head to the nearest wall…

One of my most referenced sections of any advertising book I’ve read comes from the inimitable Dave Trott. He writes that we should remove our personal views from creative ideas and appraisal, stating that we must remain ‘objective’ and accept that ‘subjectivity’ skews our perception. So when others commented on this campaign with such bold remarks as “It Worked” or “Clever Advertising” I had to ask, “why” and “how” – the fact that I disliked it was an aside if someone could show me it actually delivered.

The focus for 99% of those who called it a success was that it reached the masses and gained critical coverage and drove conversation – and I can’t argue with that. The stunt did reach hundreds and thousands of people, papers picked up on it and people talked ad-nauseum about it (yes I realise I’m not helping matters with this post).

However, the single most prominent observation following all the chat and coverage, was that conversations were focussed on “that range rover”…Range Rover! The fundamental effort to raise awareness for Revere was lost on the masses as the image which struck them was a vandalised Range Rover, even after the reveal, Revere was not the heart of the brand association. So not only did they alienate their existing customers with a discrediting and crude stunt, they also drove awareness of the wrong product, most likely raising some eyebrows with the Range Rover brand team at the same time…and rightly so.

So where am I going with this? My point is this; in an industry so focussed on naval gazing and self appreciation, we seem to have lost sight of being critical of our efforts. We’ve become so subjective that even when we’re considering results, we base them against our own expectations and perception, not those of the business or the man on the street – we make crude assumptions and grandiose remarks without justification or consideration. As is so often the case, a good percentage of those talking about the activity are marketing professionals and for that it will probably win awards in this self-congratulatory community – but will it win customers?

Now, if Khan Designs want to get in touch to do something creative and effective…well, you know where we are!

Witten by Felix Hemsley – Senior Account Director