Out with new, in with old

Out with new, in with old

As brands of yore turn into profitable comeback kids and newcomers struggle to find a foothold on shelves, an intriguing question poses itself for career conscious marketers. What potential treasures lie in your company's brand attic; mouldering away, unsupported, unloved and waiting to be resurrected?

Meanwhile, you're shelling out big-time consulting with your consultants, contemplating bizarre naming options, mulling over pack-mock-ups, reading between the lines of research, divining the undivinable and worrying just when and how this new brand baby is ever going to fly?

No wonder savvy brand managers are opting to go retro, looking towards a re-launch as opposed to a new launch as a less risky, less expensive way to add substance to the sales figures. Opt for re-launch alley and you may never make the cover of Marketing as Marketer of the Year.

On the other hand, there's a Beemer in the driveway and a golfing hideaway in the Algarve to support. It's why the term ‘no-brainer' was invented. Plus you get to supervise some truly, deeply interesting pack re-modelling.

Writing in The Times, Martin Samuel reports how brands like Mateus Rose, Spam, Cinzano Bianco and Smash – Cadbury's instant mashed potato adored by the late John Webster's invented comedic Martians – are all making comebacks. But it's not just brands that are being reborn.

Creative agencies are also going retro as well. As Samuel said, you can't turn on your television these days without some magpie advertising executive raiding your favourite album and turning it into a pitch for Knorr Cup-a-Soup.

Why this back to the womb mentality when even the busiest of us can find time and possess the culinary skills to mash a King Edward or a nice floury Queen? (And Cinzano still tastes pretty naff, if truth be told).
Apparently, it's because we're all scared of what's happening to us and feel our lives are running out of control and so we retreat to a simpler time of Angel Delight and Bird's Dream Topping. It's a case of heading back to the marketing womb while re-reading out for the brand book of Dr Freud.

Is this desire to live in the past based on reality or fiction? Or was it all so much better way back then? Updating the old has its inbuilt danger mechanisms. As Jacob Fruitfield would say, there's no beating a Silvermint.

Who would have any desire to log onto spam.com for the latest recipe for Spam Rogan Josh, or take home a tub of Smash Mash with Colcannon? A nice warming glass of Cockburn's Port anyone? Don't mind if I do.
Only remember to say ‘Co' and not ‘Cock'. Otherwise, you'll end up giving away how young and un-retro you actually are.

In the beginning, there were copywriters and visualisers. An agency had more artists than writers because their work was more time consuming. The guideline was one writer could service one-and-a-half visualisers.

But technology changed and visualisers found themselves with more thinking time on their hands. They became art directors and insisted on getting into bed with the writers. So, in the Sixties, the two-person team concept was born, creativity flourished and it has remained the industry norm ever since. But, argued veteran British creative Gerry Moira in a Campaign essay, the wheel has turned and is it now time to unshackle creatives from their partnerships. Moira claims “the creative pair system is an outdated stereotype offering poor value for money and reinforcing a client misconception that advertising is a craft and not a concept business”.

Stray Thoughts contends that advertising is primarily a craft and reckons any agency feeling compelled to call itself a ‘concept company' probably isn't capable of coming up with one. That aside, is their merit in what Moira says?

Does the existence of old-fashioned descriptors position agency creatives “farther away from the high-value, paradigm-shifting, brand-building end of the communications process”, as Moira somewhat dramatically asks.

Maybe he's right and maybe there's a reason. Many creatives by their own idiosyncratic nature and lack of appropriate training are ill equipped to deal with the business end of things. It's not the fact they come in twos that is the problem, it's just not what most of them are best at doing.

It's annoying to see bosses take advantage of this lack of business acumen while they live off the fat of another man's thoughts. Moira is right to say that it would be better to “pay

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