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We've lost that laughing feeling - why humour and the jingle needs a comeback

You Cannot be (too) Serious.

As the tennis great John McEnroe once said, You Cannot Be Serious.

For the marketers amongst us, the motivation may be remarkably similar.

Not for robotic baseline play, but for flair and brilliance, perhaps minus the angst.

That’s why most creative people enter the fray, to be memorable and create compelling work that moves people and makes an impact.

But just like tennis back in the 1970s and 80s, was the advertising era more fun and dome with greater flair and risk taking?

While we don’t want to return to the past could we learn from the television advertising of that era and redefine what the modern television commercial should look like?

Have we lost Australian larrikin thinking and the ability to poke fun at ourselves in our television ad production?

Who better than Sue Perry, Director of Brand Development at The Media Hut, to join this episode of Pending Approval with Glenda Wynyard (The Media Precinct) and Jack Geraghty (Resolve).

During her career Sue worked with Mojo, the iconic agency known for its big jingles and advertising smash hits.

Marketing and advertising work better together

“I do have empathy with marketers.

“Often clients want something measurable up front, everyone wants measurability to justify what they’ve done.”

But Perry says there are positive benefits of standing up and being a strong leader who is sceptical of chasing too many metrics.

“People don’t actually shop that way; they think about it (brands) for longer.”

Let’s be funny and clever at the same time.

Perry says the best creative people are guided by the “social currency of the day.”

“So yes things are a bit too serious (at the moment).

“Advertising is often successful when it’s a first, unusual and memorable.

“Recall is what we all want.

“Meadow Lea’s “You Ought to Be Congratulated” came about because Mojo needed a word to rhyme with polyunsaturated!

“People do like humour.

“They like to like the ad and they like to like you. And they don’t want it to be too serious.”

Perry sees the role of advertising is to take an idea and “be the invitation” and laments the lack of great colloquialisms and one liners like “throw another shrimp on the barbie” made famous by Paul Hogan promoting Australia as a tourist destination.

Have we still got the music in us?

Perry vividly recalls the C’mon Aussie C’mon advertisements to promote Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket in the 1970s.

She cautions against over analysis in the collective efforts of marketers and advertisers.

“I can watch that ad a million times. I had no interest in cricket at all.

“They just nailed it and I’m sure there wasn’t five research sessions, they understood who they were talking to.”

Perry vividly discussed a time when jingles such as Happy Little Vegemites, Aussie Kids are Weetbix Kids, and Louie The Fly became like “earworms” they were on so often.

She still sees hope for the jingle to make a comeback in today’s markets.

Unlikely beginnings can lead to an incredible journey.

Imagine you “fell into” advertising but then worked on some of the most memorable brands.

“I started down a path very similar to advertising, nursing,” Perry quipped.

“Both involve a lot of hand holding,” she laughed.

A chance meeting with someone working in advertising started her journey away from a future in emergency departments before she worked on the L’Oréal account for Mojo where she stayed for more than a decade.

“Those were incredible years.”

Perry cited her later work with Garnier as an example of how a brand can do remarkable things from a standing start by knowing its audience and creative a compelling story.

“Sure, we had the media budget, we had a partnership at the Australian Open tennis.

“But I encourage clients to have activations and connect with the target market.”

Transcript - Pending Approval Ep: 22 No Laughter Lost with Sue Perry


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