Aisling McCarthy attended the seminar on Friday, 17 August at the Durban ICC as part of the Loeries Creative Week.
French-born Courant served as the 2018 Digital category jury president. He started out his marketing career as a copywriter in France before joining the Ogilvy team, where he currently works as Ogilvy Singapore’s executive creative director.
In his time in the industry, he said he has learned many valuable lessons.Here are 20 things he learned in his 20 years in the marketing industry:
1. The importance of local shows
Having worked in Tunisia, when there were no real advertising agencies, Courant says that his team began working on more local content and started celebrating local campaigns.
The more they did this, the more these campaigns started to make a global impact. So Courant said that local content should be celebrated to grow talent, encourage excellence and push the boundaries of advertising.
2. It’s tough everywhere
Having worked in multiple countries, Courant says that he learned that every country has their issues.
While many people say that other countries have more budget or fewer obstacles to work through, Courant says these issues present opportunities for creatives. “Don’t think because you [move to a different] country it will get any easier,” he said.
3. Creativity stems from problem solving
Building on the fact that every country has its issues, Courant said that these issues should inspire creatives.
“[Issues] can inspire our creative and grow unique ideas,” he said. Using the problems in your area/region/country to inspire your creativity will allow you to create content that means something to people. And if it can solve an issue at the same time – even better!
4. Don’t ‘wait for opportunity’
Courant said that many creatives are waiting for the opportunity of a lifetime, but it will never arrive on its own.
“No one is going to hand you the key to a great campaign. Go out there and work for it!” he advised.
5. Stop dreaming about the ‘big’ brief
While every creative dreams about that ‘big’ brief that will be great for their career, Courant said that every brief should be used as an opportunity for greatness.
He used the Pond’s Men brand as an example. While it might not seem like the sexiest or most exciting brand, this advert made it great:
“Make something out of every brief. If the opportunity isn’t there – then make it!”
6. Nobody is going to fight for your work
“In the end, it’s all about fight,” said Courant.
It’s a fight to get your idea heard, protect it from being rejected, to get the extra editing time it needs and to get the best people to work on it.
He said that no one will fight for your work, so it’s important that you do.
7. Be part of a gang
To succeed in the creative industry, Courant said that you need to identify the right people and align yourself with them.
“Find the right people and then nothing can get in your way.”
Your gang should include creatives with different skills, but the same objective. He said that’s how you shake things up.
8. The main engine is hunger
“Talent is secondary – ambition is what sets you apart,” he said. “It’s all about how badly you want it.”
In order to succeed, you have to be driven to do it, regardless of how talented you are. He said that he was not the most talented person, but his success was due to the fact that he wanted it so badly, and worked extremely hard for it.
9. People don’t care about what we do
“Why should they? 99% of it is crap.” Courant said.
When you think about creative work, it usually includes every terrible advert you’ve ever seen. When creative work is bad most of the time, people don’t care about it. So he said it is vital to avoid making bad work and make people care about your work.
10. Don’t fall into the ‘crap trap’
Using a term coined by Marc Pritchard from Procter & Gamble, Courant said that creatives need to avoid falling into the ‘crap trap’.
“When marketers are at their best, they paint a brand masterpiece. But, often, brands produce crap. Technology enables both,” said Courant, quoting Pritchard. He said that technology can connect people with brands, but it can also create ad blockers, ad skipping and some really bad advertising.
Pritchard had said that Procter & Gamble had reflected on their work and saw how they fell into the ‘crap trap’.
“We thought that the best way to cut through the clutter was to create more clutter – more ads and change them constantly,” he said. On reflection, they decided to stop making noise for noise's sake, and raised the bar on creativity.
11. Do less. Do better
Avoiding the ‘crap trap’ means doing less, but doing it better.
Courant said that in order to really resonate with audiences, advertising needs to matter to consumers.
So how do we make work that consumers will like? Courant said that advertisers need to spend time making good quality, well-thought-out content that reflects the interests and needs of consumers.
12. Our job is to make people care
Any good advertiser will know that the best way to get a message across is to make people care.
Courant said that to make people care about your advertising, you have to make content that is relevant to them.
13. Why should people give a damn about what we do?
Courant said that people don’t have to care about the work creatives do, but we want them to.
In order to do that, we have to focus on the consumer first and the brand second.
14. Tell stories about people, not products
Following on, Courant said that advertisers must work on creating stories about people rather than stories about products.
“People don’t care about your product’s story. They care about people’s stories,” he said.
He said that this is the difference between creating content and advertising. People hate advertising, but they love content. And advertisers need to leverage this for success.
Comfort Pure fabric softener showcased how content can help to advertise a product:
15. The insincerity detector
Courant said that when you create something, it has to be sincere.
“People can tell when you don’t really mean it. People have developed [this sense] over time to protect themselves from people saying things they don’t mean – like marketers,”
When putting your work together, you have to really mean what you say, or else consumers will know straight away.
16. The power of the charmer
Courant said that it is important to remember the power of a charmer. That’s someone who doesn’t ask to be noticed, but rather someone who notices you and cares about you.
People like to be charmed, and advertisers should remember that and use it in their marketing.
17. Do something for them
“Don’t ask consumers to buy a shirt, wear it and upload a video of themselves doing something,” he said. “They aren’t going to do your work for you.”
Good creative work should do something for consumers, rather than making them do something for you.
18. Join the consumer’s fight
Identify the struggles that your consumers have and find a way to help them out.
However, Courant said it is vital that you prove you mean it – or else it will backfire on you.
19. What’s your point of view?
When looking for ways to connect with consumers, Courant said that you don’t always have to share their beliefs.
If you do have a difference of opinion, share your thoughts and question common beliefs. This way, he said, you will be starting a relationship with your consumers, not just a discussion.
Finally, Courant said that sometimes you have to make people care by shaking things up.
“All the best ideas are provocative,” he said.
Loeries 2018 gave marketers and creatives a lot to think about; for example, how women are represented in adverts. Find out more in our article, #Loeries2018: How are women represented in marketing?