Why I Started Uncommon Sense



By Lee Taylor
Managing Director, Uncommon Sense

Having held senior positions for a range of organisations over the last decade, from FTSE 250 businesses to international advertising agencies, I have seen a lot of change in the marketing industry.

Change is good – it allows new ideas to propagate, opportunities to be taken and to maintain the process of regeneration. However, I started to notice over the years that this change appears to be at the expense of something.

Marketing and advertising campaigns are designed to drive awareness, product understanding and sales. The best results happen when the campaign gets into the mind of the consumer, really understands their needs and wants, and then articulates the right message, at the right time and in the right context. Marketing agencies are at the forefront of this; helping empower brands with insight and data, and then crafting compelling campaigns that resonate with the consumer.

Humans have evolved through a slow process of natural selection over the millennia. Our genes’ survival and prolongation into the future has shaped everything from our immune and digestive systems to our cognitive abilities and decision making, and how we interact with the world around us. An individual’s decision making process is in part shaped by these forces – so, when presenting consumers with a consumption choice, advertising is extremely powerful when it’s designed to speak to our biological drives.

Recently, there seems to have been an influx of marketing campaigns that sideline and even work actively against this theory. Some brands seem to be pushing increasingly perplexing campaigns – some of which I genuinely struggled to understand what they were even selling.

One example is a 90-second ad that shows someone swimming under water, and at the end you’re presented with a message courtesy of Estrella Damm about cleaning up our oceans. There’s not a drop of refreshing Spanish beer in sight. I agree – we DO need to clean up our oceans, but I fail to see how this will help the company’s sales. They weren’t even offering to donate part of their profits to actually addressing the issue!

A second example is Barclays, a bank. They’re telling their potential account holders not to misgender someone on Twitter. Why do brands feel like they need to lecture people and get involved in culture wars?

We can all appreciate Coke telling the world to live in harmony back in the 1960s, but now I think things have gone too far.

Social media has given everyone a platform to engage, which has had some enormous benefits for our industry and overall consumer satisfaction. On the downside, it makes it so easy for a vocal minority to call for boycotts over perceived injustices that brands appear to have become utterly terrified. They seem to be lurching between promoting the latest social agendas rather than acting upon what is right for their products and customers.

So what if Barclay’s might be doing dodgy deals in Qatar or manipulating Libor? These things are much easier to sweep under the carpet when they’ve got such a noteworthy Twitter campaign.

This recent foray into culture wars has undoubtedly alienated consumers, and in some cases left sales struggling. There’s an opportunity here for us to return to common sense marketing; crafting campaigns and strategies that appeal to our biology.

It for this reason that Uncommon Sense was born. So called, because we’re out of the ordinary. We’re on a mission to restore good old fashioned common sense, one great marketing campaign at a time.

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