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‘Simple’ may be out of fashion but it’s the way forward says Dave Trott

Dave Trott’s reputation as an ad guru grows apace and today he was speaking to the annual congress of FEPE – the association representing the world’s big out of home media companies – about creativity.
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His theme was ‘Complicated is stupid, simple is clever’ and, in essence, he was making the point that the message remains more important than the medium, however whizzy the medium may be.

The latest such is social of course, but OOH is also in the midst of a ‘medium’ frenzy, with digital screens, connections to mobile and the like seemingly taking over the world.

Creatives, he said, weren’t producing the goods as they should, partly because they were completely confused about what they were supposed to be doing: content, ideation, transcreation, narrowcasting and all the rest of it. All these were driven by technology and the belief, mistaken in Trott’s eyes, that new means of distribution – media – require a different kind of message.

Trott much prepares Bill Bernbach’s concentration on “simple timeless human truths,” as should we all.

On the same theme of ‘simple is best’ Trott also pointed to survey information that purported to show that four per cent of UK ads were ‘remembered positively,’ seven per cent recalled less than positively and 89 per cent completely ignored.

In an £18.3bn ad market this was a lot of waste, he opined, before moving to a classic Trott exposition on how to get noticed – be different, essentially.

Can even Trott turn back the tide of complexity for the sake of it?

Needless complexity also surfaced in a presentation by the conference’s other heavy hitter, Rupert Day of WPP out of home giant Tenth Avenue.

Day, who moved into what was then the poster business from accountant Arthur Andersen, is one of media’s ‘big brains’ and he showed the multifarious and, er, complex ways in which the various bits of out of home can link together for the benefit of advertisers.

His point was that OOH, when it does this, is a formidably effective marketing channel; arguably more so than TV or online.

But the various competing media owners in the sector needed to work to agreed ad formats so that the likes of Tenth Avenue and its OOH specialist agency Kinetic could put together big campaigns cost effectively.

Trott and Day, what an agency that might have been.

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