Posted on February 9, 2017 by chemistry on News

Alan Kelly from Rothco on Chemistry’s Get Cancer ad

Open on me getting into a taxi (any taxi) over the last two weeks.
Driver: “Where to?”
Me: “13 Pembroke Row, just off Baggot Street please.”
Driver: “Rothco?”
Me: “Yeah.”
Awkward silence for a moment until we pass a bus shelter with ‘I Want to Get Cancer’ six sheet.
Driver: “Rothco, that’s an advertising agency, yeah?”
I consider lying and saying it’s Nama’s HQ/Revenue Commissioners/illegal immigrants safe house, just for an easier life, but chicken out.
Me: “Yeah, it’s an ad agency.”
Driver: “Did you do that cancer ad?”
Me: “No, it wasn’t us.”
Driver: “Pity. It’s good.”
Me: (Internal) “Damn, should’ve totally lied and claimed it.”

Now cut to the four other times I got into a cab recently where that campaign came up in conversation, you could toss a coin as to what reaction it would get – a mix of “I hate it”, “completely insensitive”, “my ma died of cancer”, or “woeful”.

Here’s the thing, in communications the opposite to love isn’t hate, its indifference. And the one thing you can say with certainty is the cancer campaign wasn’t ignored. It started a conversation in pubs, in taxis and, no doubt, Joe Duffy got a good two or three days out of it.

People talked about the issue – and that’s the point. Today, your idea either stands out or it blends in. Yet some clients and agencies still insist on playing it safe/not using creativity to get their idea out into the world. While agencies and clients feel safe, audiences won’t keep it in their brains for more than a few seconds.

A very smart ex-client of mine once said: “You get the creativity you deserve. When a client buys poor work, it means they think the work is good enough for them. Creativity is a risky decision and some companies are not wired for risk, they are wired for control.”

I agreed with a lot of what he said, except the “creativity is risky…” bit. It’s not, the risk lies in not being creative. Playing it safe and blending in with the thousands of other messages vying for an audience’s attention every day is a much, much bigger risk…since you ask.

As seen in Feb 2017 Vol 28