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Larry McEnerney

By Uncategorized

According to McEnerney, every successful piece of academic writing has the same structure. It goes like this:

“You and many others think X. But I’m here to tell you that you and they, are wrong.” By the end of the paper you have been sold Y which is right. And being corrected represents the value exchange for the effort you’ve put into reading it.

On the Copycourse, we don’t see that as very different from a piece of marketing writing. Marketing writing goes as follows:

“You’ve be doing X. But X is something of a problem. We’re here to tell you there it’s easier if you do Y.”

By the end of the marketing communication you have been sold Y. And the possibility of having a marginally better or easier life represents the value exchange for paying attention to the message.

So in case you’ve ever wondered about the difference between marketing communication and academic communication, the answer is that fundamentally they’re the same structure.

Dove

By Uncategorized

Dove took a very ordinary soap and found what was at the time a very extraordinary proposition. At the heart of this leap forward was research which told Dove what everyone already knew but had never really identified properly. Namely that women filtred out most marketing messages delivered by models because they weren’t real women.

Story change and communication

By Communication theory, content, Story, Strategy, Uncategorized

From zero to hero. The classic log line for a Hollywood storyline. Why? because there’s lots of change implicit in zeros becoming heros. A perfect example of this would be the log-line for Down and Out in Beverly Hills. Where the filthy rich meet the dirty poor. You can almost see that there will be change for both the two main characters. Without change there can be no story and without story there’s no communication. These three things go together and if you’re going to understand any one of them you need to understand them all.

Another way of looking at this is by investigating what happens when there’s no change. And by that we also mean no change in expectation. If you were to try to build a story around visiting a vending machine: You go to the a vending machine in some big building.

You select, say a Kit Kat, put your money in, and a Kit Kat duly drops onto the tray. Well, there’s no possible story that can come out of that because in no way has any expectation been thwarted or confounded. However, if a Kit Kat didn’t drop down, but something much more unexpected did, say a packet of class A drugs, you have the beginnings of a storyline.

Pregnant Man – the logic flow

By Communications craft, Creativity, Uncategorized

“The ad made headlines all over the world when it came out. It was such a bombshell, one of the most controversial ads ever. There were questions in Parliament about the propriety of running such an ad, especially in the government’s name. It made a furore all around advertising and beyond, all over the world.

The client was delighted, even more so after it had made such a fuss, because that put it on the map. I hope it did some good. It’s weird to me that it’s made such an impact and still makes an impact. Because in photographic terms, what is it? A picture of a bloke. I find it pretty baffling really.”

Alan Brooking was the photographer of “Pregnant man”

How do you get the pregnant man from a proposition that says “Be more careful about getting your girlfriend pregnant”?

Answer: Start with every related idea around pregnancy. Especially the ones that are so obvious you no longer see them.

 

Especially the  rule that says men don’t get pregnant. Turn this upside down.

Then exaggerate it so they get very pregnant – just like a woman close to term.

Finally, make it look the most normal thing in the world. To sum up: Start with a trope, invert it, exaggerate and normalise.

 

 

 

When the above process is done, you’ve created a symmetry across the impossible. On one hand your brain sees the logic of it and on the other it fights the impossibility. The power of the communication comes from this.

In another example of creating ideas by creating symmetries is shown in the following idea for Robinson’s Barley Water. This is a sketch of the ad.

The idea starts with mapping out the form of a tennis ball on an orange and then normalizing it. The visual is such so closely symmetric you hardly notice the orange dimples on the tennis ball.

Henry Ford and the car cow symmetry

Predictive text and symmetry with opposite

Jet engine and mushroom symmetry

Tone Wheel

By Brand, Tone, Uncategorized

In any highly competitive market, where there is a surfeit of products all competing for the same proposition, then inevitably, the propositions become hard to distinguish. In these cases a sort of exclusion principle applies.  Once one successful brand has occupied one slot, the next successful product to compete in that space will have to occupy a different tonal slot.

This is where brand tonality and personality becomes the difference; When price, product, promotion etc are all identical.

To understand this graphically it helps to see tone in terms of the following wheel. It shows how brands connect to the idea of archetype, an idea originally conceived by Jung.
If you’d like to read more about the role of archetypes in brands and organisations try The Hero and the Outlaw, by Margaret Mark and Carol S Pearson.

 

Write the driving test report

By Communications craft, content, Report

All you have to do is pick one of these Mr Men characters and imagine you’re going to take him on a test in one of the vehicles.

Your role is the chief driving examiner and also licensing authority for whatever vehicle they’re getting tested in. Decide what they do on their test, and report what happened, so their suitability can be assessed.

Tom picked Mr Fussy and the Ice Cream van, but you’re free to pick any combination at all. All that we ask is that you produce something clear simple and well structured. You can use the following template if it helps.

Context

What has prompted this report?

Problem

What is the question or problem your report needs to address?

Observations

What actually did you notice on this test? (see observations)

Exposure

What are the possible consequences of these observations?

Insight

When you ask why the observations occurred, what answers come to light? The result probing the root cause of something usually generates an insight.

Recommendations

What do you recommend the licensing authority and does or withholds from the individual?

Working like a detective

By Case Study, Uncategorized


For a great professional case it’s important the expert sees beyond where other lesser professionals get stopped blocked or fobbed off. In what is a classic twist from Murder on the Orient Express, the incriminating hankerchief bears the initial H. So it can’t possibly belong to Natalia. Or so you might think. However Poirot knows that in Russian an H is pronounced an N and so it could indeed be Natalia’s.
The premise of expertise in case history writing is that when nothing is quite what it appears only a specialist with raised levels of perception can ascertain what really is going on.

16 pointers to interviewing a topic holder of a case study
1. Think like a detective.
2. Assume something brilliant has happened, then sniff it out.
3. Spot the unusual
4. Get clear about the problem involved and the pain of the original situation
5. What’s at stake? Beneath the ‘nice to have’ need which triggered the engagement, there’s often a crisis brewing.
6. If another agency handled this, would the kids have gone into care? Would people continue to die unnecessarily, due to missing out on cancer treatment?
7. Probe beneath buzz phrases.
8. Seek out the raised level of perception and knowledge that goes into the brilliance. Hercules Poirot knew that H is the Russian for N, so Natalie could have owned the handkerchief with H on it.
9. Ask what people were doing at the critical moments when the idea or insight came into being.
10. Seek out what’s important, not what appears to be conventionally important.
11. Look for signs of change and transformation and ask what caused these.
12. Don’t forget to ask open questions – and wait for them to surprise you.
13. Ask questions that force the interviewee themselves to make the choice of what was really important. What one single thing contributed most. Where did the value really add? Etc.
14. Locate the passion point. The bit were the interviewee starts to get excited. You know you’re onto the MOB because they’re about to get found out.
15. Get the interviewee to talk about the parts of the story they haven’t spoken of before. If it’s fresh it’s usually more interesting.
16. Enjoy. They’ll wriggle around avoiding their brilliance, but just like a murder suspect, the interviewee will feel relieved when they’ve eventually told the truth.

Creativity where you least expect it

By Creativity, Strategy, Thought leadership


There have been many funky things you can do with the design of a bike stand, and I’ve had to lock my bike to quite a few of them. Some of them are really annoying because they allow a bike to topple over. But this one I spotted in Islington is a breath of fresh air. And like all neat creative ideas, it starts by asking a question no one else had bothered to ask: What would bike parking look like if it were designed by someone who wasn’t a cyclist or a road engineer? What if it were designed by a landscape gardener? The ability create different answers starts with the ability to ask different questions. And follow them through to interesting conclusions.

Starting with a story

By Communication theory, Communications craft, content, Funny, Thought leadership, Uncategorized, What's out there now


Masters of story don’t start with a simple fact or assertion, they weave a story that does the same thing.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks could have begun his speech by simply saying something like “all faiths have similarities, but they also have interesting differences.”
That would have been a perfectly coherent way to start a speech at an interfaith dinner. But by starting with a story that demonstrates the same thing, he does so much more than assert a first beat.
He demonstrates mastery of the story form, establishes his own character as a player at Government level, and also brings some laughs to the room. But the story is always in the service of demonstrating the first beat of the rest of his speech.