Ads can drive culture, so don’t make them crap - Ogilvy's Graham Fink

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 28 October 2015
Graham Fink credit: AANA Twitter account

The best ads do more than just sell products, they have a place in culture, and if your ads aren’t using culture and looking to drive it you’re missing a major opportunity reckons Graham Fink, chief creative officer for Ogilvy and Mather China.

Speaking at the AANA’s Reset conference in Sydney today, Fink explained that culture is whatever is put out into society, so advertising by its very definition can drive culture, however there’s of course a line between driving culture in a positive way or a negative one.

“Everything that goes out there creates culture,” Fink said. “If we create crap, that’s going to have a negative effect.

“Advertising can start movement, it can do all sorts of things. The tools we have in our arsenal are very powerful and we have to be very careful how we use them."

One example Fink used was Cadbury’s 2007 Gorilla spot. He said that ad was the turning point for culture, with clients and agencies alike striving to have their own 'Gorilla moment'.

He added it’s difficult to create culture when marketers are unsure of what their brand stands for. Fink believes this can be caused by the common lifespan of a marketer, and in turn their agency relationships, being only around two to three years long.

“They [marketers] keep changing what the brand stands for and they keep changing the message,” he said.

“If you’re going to put your message out there - make sure it’s doing something and making the place look better."

Fink also said the concept of culture extends to what a business' internal culture looks like, as well as that business' agency culture.

He asked the room if the top-tier clients in attendance had recently had a one-on-one conversation with their agency’s ECD, without any account people present.

“That’s really important,” Fink explained. “You need to work out if he gets it or not. Clients say to me 'What if he’s an aresehole?' Then fire your agency.

“It puts more responsibility onto the ECD, but he’s the one that’s going to increase your brand. If he doesn’t get the concept of making advertising a part of culture then your advertising is only doing half of what it should do.”

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