Here’s how you communicate to consumers on their own terms


All too often we see advertising and advertising people creating amazing, innovative and out of this world ideas that please their peers and the industry, but are completely lacking relevance in the real world.

It’s our job is to create influence for brands. You can only do that if you can translate data into a valuable human insight. You need to understand people, see the world through their eyes, understand why or when the product is relevant to people’s lives and how it can maybe even make them a little better. When we get this right, we create our best ideas.

By actually looking at things from the customers’ point of view, our team in Melbourne broke all the rules of traditional bank advertising and even broke a few records for their client Westpac. Their brief was simply to teach people how to use Westpac’s new cardless cash service, but instead of just showing people how to get cash, they actually gave money away. Free money is a bit more relevant to most people, I think, and they did it in such a fun and clever way that connected with young people, who they wanted to reach the most.

In Amsterdam, our team created relevance for business travelers by remembering who these travelers are as people and understanding what is most important to them. They proved KLM’s commitment to caring and timely service by creating something not for the businessperson, but for the people waiting for them at home. Their “Nightslight” can be set for the exact amount of nights the business traveler will be away and counts them down for the children anxious for their return. The promotional item sold out in less than a week.

What makes all the ideas featured here truly relevant is how we expressed them. It’s in the tone of voice, the artistry of the design, the ideal media placement and the way we engaged people. Every choice comes down to understanding the consumer on their terms.

It is a tough challenge to get it all right. So here are some of the things to remember that have helped us over the years at DDB to create some of the most influential brands on the planet:

Treat people as friends, not as customers. Don’t steal their time or interrupt their lives and annoy them with nonsense. Data can be helpful to understand people’s worries, problems, wishes, desires and what really matters to them, but it’s still not an idea. And always remember, people are not interested in advertising, they are interested in what is entertaining, useful, relevant and valuable in their life.