Raahil Chopra
Sep 25, 2014

Spikes Asia 2014: “Be unpredictable. Chase opportunities, accept vulnerabilities” - Y&R’s Sandy Thompson

The global head of planning said perfection isn’t the top requirement

Spikes Asia 2014: “Be unpredictable. Chase opportunities, accept vulnerabilities” - Y&R’s Sandy Thompson

‘Fortune favours the brave' and ‘Resist the usual or disappear’ were the key take-outs from Y&R’s global head of planning Sandy Thompson’s session on Day Two of Spikes Asia 2014.


The lady joined advertising because she was 'terrible at school' and wanted a 'non 9 to 5 job', she revealed. She also wanted to do something creative and something she loved. Here's what she had to say.


'Hate the word ‘Target’'


“As a planner, we want to talk to 'people'. I hate the word ‘target’ that’s used in advertising every day," she said. Noting that brands needed to give people a reason to talk about them, Thompson underlined that this was where 'bold' came in.


Quoting research findings from BAV 2014 (Brand Asset Valuator, proprietary tool of Y&R), she pointed to declining trust in brands over the past two decades. Intimacy with brands was also dropping, she contended, with only 18 per cent of brands in India being 'intimate' with consumers.


She added, “We now have endless opportunities to connect, but yet it’s not necessarily making us better at what we do. We are using new media as the necessary pieces of a perfect formula for better communication. A lot of the brands are losing credibility very fast. Majority of the people in the world (73 per cent) wouldn’t care if brands they use just disappear. The number comes down to 49 per cent in Asia, but there’s still a cause of concern. With this, brands are becoming redundant today. People in the 20s are now less brand loyal. What this means is you have to stay away from the copy-cat syndrome and make it more interesting.”


Resist the 'Usual'


Thompson explained Y&R’s philosophy of 'resisting the usual'. “The key is to be unpredictable. You need to chase opportunities and accept your vulnerabilities. You need to have the bravery to break from the category and your audience. You need to have the fearlessness,” said Thompson.


“For about five to six years at Cannes, we’ve discussed how TV was going to be dead. It’s not. It’s far from being dead. Today, 25 to 34-year-olds are watching more content,” she added.


While the music industry seemed to be dipping, broadcast is growing, she said, and reasoned: “Screens are changing, but broadcast still remains top of mind.”


On music's decline as an industry, and what broadcast did right, she noted that the music industry was the first to blame piracy. While it blamed the fans and believed 'the good days would come back', broadcast took a different approach. 


“Broadcast saw what was happening. It welcomed new channels, engaged the watchers and embraced that the world of consumption has changed forever. Broadcast is engaging today because the content and characters they create resonate with consumers,” she added.


Embrace Inexperience


Thompson wrapped up her session discussing why Y&R’s strategy was not about looking for perfection, but about making things more interesting.


She surmised, “Perfection is not engaging and yet we are looking for it. We need to embrace inexperience and stay fluid to stay interesting. People are used to adapting and changing with the times knowing that change is not only acceptable but required. They engage more when we create something to talk about.”

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