I started in media. I used to sell airtime on the UK’s commercial TV network ITV in London. I wasn’t particularly good at the selling of it. but I was really good at predicting what the ratings for a particular show on a particular night might be. This was, I think, partly due to the fact that I watched so much TV. I was in tune with the market. I would watch anything and could appreciate anything. I wasn’t a snob. And I still miss watching Coronation Street. And savouring the ratings of its reliably juicy centre break. 45+ Households/Housewives! Every episode! Phenomenal. Is Ken Barlow still on it?
So when I switched to being a creative I brought with me the knowledge that, despite what creatives might say, it’s not really all about the idea. The audience is arguably more important. If nobody sees your idea it can’t have an effect, can it?
More people have seen my ads than have seen Van Gogh’s paintings and Scorsese’s films, I’m guessing. Which is a scary thought but quite probably true.
I have retained this interest in “the numbers” all through my career. Even when it didn’t really matter, I was always keen to know what the ratings for the Super Bowl that my ad was appearing in were. And what the trend year-on-year was etc… Once you get bitten by the audience bug you can’t shake it. “How many people showed up at the party?” is basically what it is.
My media fascination largely lay dormant for some of my creative ad career. And then the internet happened. And then I had what was arguably the biggest viral hit ever. And I loooooved it. Why? Because it was quantifiable. I could feel the hundreds of millions of clicks running through my fingers like sand. There is an ebb and flow to online popularity just like there was with TV ratings. It was like I had my own hit show on my hands. And i was determined to keep up the ratings, was how i looked at it.
I still approach advertising like this. I love a hit show. Or a hit ad. And I’m not particularly bothered how i achieve it.