ITV Presents: Predatory Thinking with Dave Trott

Dave Trott had an urgent message for the audience at Ad Week on its final day – “Nobody’s f***ing looking”.

The executive creative director and author was in strident form at this year’s ITV Spotlight Lecture, Predatory Thinking.

“Every year in the UK, 18.3 billion is spent on advertising and marketing. 89 per cent isn’t noticed or remembered. That’s 17 billion quid pissed away by so-called experts,” he told the crowd.

“The scale of the problem is, nobody’s looking. It’s wallpaper.”

Trott warned us: “Doing good advertising is hard and it’s getting harder. The problem as I see it is it isn’t creative any more, because creatives don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing.

“It feels like a horse trying to pull an overloaded cart. The horse can’t do anything unless you unpack the cart a bit. We need to unpack the cart.”

Trott quoted advertising legend Bill Bernbach: “It may well be that creativity is the last unfair advantage we’re legally allowed to take over our competitors.”

But he told us that creativity didn’t have to be complicated. “Simplicity is where the power is,” said Trott.

“Stupid people think complicated is clever. Intelligent people know you have to go beyond complicated to get to clever. Einstein said, if you can’t explain it to an 11-year-old, you haven’t understood it properly.”

He drew a face of the consumer surrounded by all the different types of media and told us that the consumer WAS the media. “The rest is gimmicks to get to the media,” he said.

Trott played us a clip of an ice cream van playing the Greensleeves tune – a tune everybody recognizes, supposedly written by Henry VIII. “Where the f*** was Twitter then?” asked Trott? “Where was YouTube? Where was CDs or cassettes or anything else to make that go viral so that 500 years later we’re still singing it?”

He talked about three key elements; impact, communication and persuasiveness and likened it to asking someone to make you a cup of tea; first you have to get their attention, then you have to communicate your needs, then you have to persuade them to do it.

“If you understand how the human mind works you can put together you business in a way that ticks all these boxes,” he said.

Then Trott discussed the value of being different; he showed us how, obviously, if something is different, it stands out in people’s minds. “We know the mind is a pattern-making machine; the mind groups things,” he said.

With his hi-tech marker pen, he drew us a graphic showing ‘formers’ and ‘followers’ and explained how marketers can leverage the power of opinion formers. He described how Moneysupermarket had leveraged huge amounts of free media when the Sun newspaper used the image from their ad and put George Osborne’s head on their character’s body. “They must have got about 10 million quids’ worth of free media from that,” he said.

Finally, he told the (supposedly true) story of the New Zealand couple who became trapped in their keyless car because they didn’t have their transponder key to get out. “They were in the car for 13 hours, the wife had passed out, she’s near death, they were finally rescued by neighbours - if they’d been in there for another half an hour they’d be dead,” said Trott.

“It never occurred to them to try the door handle.”

He warned the audience: “Don’t be the people who never try the door handle.”

If you missed this session, make sure you catch up here