Advertising. Its success is as much to do with timing, chance and external influence, as it is with insight, research and planning. Sure, you can measure sentiment, you can track buying behaviour and, to an extent, you can identify the best channel to promote yourself through – but despite this, advertising will always be more about the moment than it is about the maths.

Of course, with a vast amount of data at your fingertips you can now measure, learn and adapt much faster. The point is that you still aren’t able to account for the factors which remain outside of your control. You can’t be sure. You can’t predict and you can’t ‘know’ the response.

Fact is, advertising is reliant on understanding and manipulating human nature, which means science can only take you so far.

Last year the average Super Bowl commercial cost $4 million for a 30 second spot, yet many would argue the most memorable moment was Oreo’s “dunk in the dark” tweet – sure it’s an overused example – but only because it’s so pertinent.

Are you really saying all the insight we have means nothing?

To say advertising is not a science, is not to say that you don’t apply some of the same logic. Through insight, understanding and intelligence your chances of being successful will inevitably increase. There’s a lot to be said for implementing a more scientific approach when working in a creative environment – validating a hypothesis is not a bad place to start…

Too many assumptions will only mean the execution of a campaign which won’t engage the people it was intended for. Good advertising encompasses research, testing and the power of conviction. A good idea is not just about the intelligence and the approach but the unique take a creative has on the insight you have. Great campaigns rarely have anything to do with a budget allocation, a client’s approval process, or an account manager’s taste in design.

At the end of the day advertising is still about imagination. You can’t learn to see things differently, you can’t make yourself think outside the box, and you can’t train yourself to spot a gap or grab the moment. Ultimately you, like me, will always need to recruit talent, the ‘can’t be learned skills’ of a creative individual.

My summary? If you know your audience then you’ve got a good chance – if you can be in the right place, at the right time, with a big idea, then you might just score a touchdown…

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