Food for thought from Thinkbox's Big Think 2018

By Lucy Tugby 07/06/2018

Not just a free breakfast. Our planning director, David Brown shares his notes from Thinkbox's Big Think 2018 event held at BAFTA yesterday.

The fifth annual Thinkbox “Big Think” yesterday provided real food for thought as it looked at some of the biggest issues affecting the media industry right now. (It also provided real food for eating – thanks for the breakfast.)

Data: the depths, dividends and delusions
Data was a big theme – and not just media data but personal data. Not something we might have expected at a TV event even a few short years ago perhaps?  Alex Steer, chief product officer at Wavemaker, entertained and educated as he explored the business world’s ‘data is/isn’t/maybe the new oil’ story, drawing a clever analogy with the oil industry: Marketing tends to build Pipelines (to send it where needed) but often neglects the Platforms (to find and collect) and the Refinery (to turn it into something useful).

Guilty as charged is probably the most accurate response to that but fortunately there are exceptions:  Claire Sadler, marketing director at Direct Line for Business, and Sanjeevan Bala, head of data science at Channel 4, were on hand to talk about how their organisations are approaching data from a more strategic perspective (Anyone with kids reaching driving age might want to take a look at the Direct Line’s lifesaving telematics app:

Thirty seconds to save advertising
Stu Outhwaite-Noel, chief creative officer and co-founder of Creature, shared his views on the importance and creative potential of the 30s TV ad, sharing some great examples, past and present. He showed how the trend towards longer ‘epics’ and the proportion of industry awards that follow is dramatically out of step with what the typical TV viewer actually watches. He also pointed out that there was little if any evidence that longer ads were more effective. 

I would suggest the latter may be true only for brand advertising - our experience is that the opposite is true of DRTV ads where short term results – immediate response - matter. 

But overall I think he has a very good point. More effort creating entertaining 30s brand ads focussed on product and a little less effort spent on epics focussed on brand purpose makes good sense.

Show me the funny
Writing legend Simon Nye (The Durrells, Men Behaving Badly), BAFTA Breakthrough Brit 2017 Susan Wokoma (Porters, Crashing, Chewing Gum), and Pete Thornton, senior commissioning editor at UKTV, were on stage to talk about the art of brilliant scripted comedy.

All I can say, is that I need to start watching a wider range of channels because I’m missing some great TV comedy – quite a bit of it starring Susan Wokoma - if the clips we saw are anything to go by.

The Choice Factory
Richard Shotton, Manning Gottlieb OMD’s deputy head of evidence, talked us through some of the themes from his new book ‘The Choice Factory’, exploring cognitive biases that effect our behaviours and can – and indeed sometimes have – been used to great effect in advertising.  He told us about how his interest in this field arose and shared some examples of academic research.

With the results of a simple survey we’d been asked to complete before the event, he then proved a couple of our own biases: He showed that most of us tend to think we are smarter than our colleagues (insert own joke here). And he showed us how simple anchoring could be used to influence how many calories we think there are in an apple. (Obviously I’m not effected by any kind of bias. I just eat very big apples.)

More worryingly perhaps, he also showed how DeBeers has repeatedly used this bias to get us to pay more for diamond engagement or wedding rings. The cost of betrothal in Japan has been hit hardest with an advertising led bias towards spending 3 months’ salary on the ring.

Much has of course already been written by other marketers on this topic - and even without necessarily understanding the underlying theories, many advertisers have deployed these techniques to great effect – all those classic direct response techniques for example.

But I still very much look forward to reading Richard’s book, partly out of professional interest but perhaps also for a few dinner party anecdotes or tricks. (NB Note my anti-Amazon bias).

The video from the event is available on the Thinkbox website.


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