Clios: Hayden Preaches ‘Polarization’

MIAMI “Clients need to have the courage to polarize” potential customers in order to innovate in the age of consumer distraction.

So said Steve Hayden, vice chairman, Ogilvy Worldwide, during an address here today at the 48th annual Clio Festival.

He opened his presentation by showing the recent anti-Hillary Clinton video clip that parodied Apple’s famous “1984” Super Bowl spot that introduced the Macintosh personal computer.

Hayden wrote “1984” at Chiat\Day in 1983, and today he joked, “Nobody called me when it came out, but nobody fired me.”

His point: At a time when newspaper circulation is falling and consumers are spending more time on the Internet, clients need to be prepared for their customers to talk back to them, and should not shy away from head-on engagement.

Referencing what happened when Chevrolet asked consumers to craft personalized versions of a Tahoe ad—leading several to put anti-SUV environmental messages into their videos—he said, “They outsold Ford two to one when that online promotion was going on. The blogosphere keeps us authentic, open and honest—if it doesn’t kill us.”

He also advocated that advertisers adopt the “long-tail” strategy, which boils down to selling less of more. “What if we could find an audience for that weird idea that doesn’t fit the campaign?” he asked.

Hayden closed by discussing the “Big Ideal … where a brand’s best self intersects with a cultural truth,” rather than striving to hang a campaign on an agency-generated “big idea” that could be less genuine.

Working in this fashion to come up with ideas for its own clients, he said Ogilvy used the sentence: “[Insert company name] believes the world would be a better place if …”

For example: “Johnson & Johnson [an Ogilvy client] believes the world would be a better place if people took care of each other.”

But not every Big Ideal has to be uplifting, he said. For example, “Lynx [an Ogilvy London client] believes the world would be a better place if men could have sex very, very easily.”

Adweek‘s parent, the Nielsen Co., owns the Clio Awards.