I knew James Cameron was a genius

I knew it the first time I saw the original Terminator from ’84. It’s still one of my all-time favorite movies to this day and I rewatch it at least once a year. When I saw Netflix’ latest documentary The Social Dilemma last weekend, it made me think about Skynet.

The speed – another great movie by the way – by which technology is evolving is absolutely mind blowing. I had a very nostalgic conversation with a colleague of mine about the flip phones I used while I was studying at the university and the Bacardi Breezers everyone used to drink and threw up immediately after drinking. And all this was only 10 years ago.
Then the conversation got derailed to Taio Cruz’s Dynamite, but that’s not the main point I’m trying to make.

For a while now, I’ve been getting more and more agitated by the state of digital advertising.

In the course of the last two weeks, I was targeted with apparel that can only be described as a SM-fetishist’s dream, a dominatrix face mask and a dating agency using Dragon Ball Z’s Master Roshi as their poster boy. A recent series of academic studies on ad fraud shows that targeting accuracy varies between 7% and 77%. I guess that would be the reason why I was targeted by very dubious penis-dolls and amorphous Russian statues turned into dolls, in the months preceding. And not only was the content borderline traumatizing, the quality of the ads I got was just appalling and made me want to scratch my eyes out (who ever uses comic sans in an ad need to be severely punished).

With Facebook business manager, everyone can launch their own campaign, and it seems that everyone did.

Back to The Social Dilemma and Skynet.
While the public debate on body positivity, gender- and race equality rages, the oh so advanced technology seems to be leading a life of its own and pushing us in the other direction. Polarizing groups of individuals and reinforcing gender- and other stereotypes and biases at a higher pace than we could ever stand up against.
Besides the aforementioned disturbing ads that I’ve received, the majority of the ads that I got were some of the most misogynistic garbage that you can think of: other than the traditional make-up and jewelry, I got served ads for hair removal, anti-aging miracle cremes, very – and I mean very – skimpy bathing suits, yoga vitamins, beauty vitamins,…sure enough, perhaps these were also targeted towards men, but we know from a fact that data and technology is biased to begin with.

Only last week, a series of tweets called out Twitter’s algorithm to be prejudiced against black individuals in favor of white middle-aged men. Google’s speech-recognition software was found to be 70% more likely to accurately recognize male speech than female. And even image databanks such as Google, have been found to be reinforcing gender bias. When looking for “CEO’s”, Google returned an even lower rate of female CEO’s depicted than the already grim reality.

I’m a big fan of technology, but when data becomes a commodity and the foundation of your business model, it’s not in your best interest to take any demanding and qualitative measures that can lead to lesser data.

While we’re rallying for everything that’s right, technology is undoing the same progress. It’s a catch-22. Unless the people in charge of the technology changes the way they use their means.

Luckily, there are some encouraging signs. Anti-vaxxers will be hating, but Bill Gate’s philanthropy doesn’t need any introduction and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is also doing his part by opening tuition-free schools for underserved children. But when I see Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg being grilled by AOC, I see a scared little boy. Someone who’s immensely unaware of the size and magnitude of what he created, an unstoppable and insatiable virtual monster feeding off of personal data, leading a life of its own.

I wonder if Mark’s ever seen the Terminator.

The lost art of giving a good briefing

I’ve been told several times that I can be quite black or white.
In my opinion, this is a good quality to have in my daily occupation as a strategist. I strongly believe that strategy is as much about what not to do, than what you should do as a brand.
It’s a lesser quality when it comes to people as I tend to be really distrustful of people with whom I’ve had a bad experience. It’s really difficult to change my mind again once I’ve drawn my conclusions.
For example, if someone doesn’t like maths and avoid talking about figures or if someone’s too fluffy and not concrete enough for my taste, I’m sometimes too quick to categorize these persons in the “You’re going to give me a headache”-pile. On the other hand, if someone’s able to summarize in three bulletpoints (or five, but always an uneven number) what they want to tell me, then they’re automatically in my “BFF”-pile.

Lately, I’ve seen an increasing alarming number of “Headache”-briefings and a significant decrease in number of “BFF”-briefings. “Headache”-briefings are briefings that doesn’t contain any numbers at all. No marketshare, no SMART objectives, no info whatsoever. Instead, there’s a really fluffy description of what the campaign should achieve, something in the lines of “Increase brand desirability amongst millennials” or “Be a love brand for Gen Z”.
Sometimes it’s even worse, e.g. the briefing mentions “Maintain premium position” and when you ask what this exact position is that you should maintain, you get “Oh but we don’t have any figures” as an answer.

Everytime a marketeer says “I don’t have this info” and doesn’t seem to be bothered, a puppy dies.

I’ve been enrolled in Mark Ritson’s Mini MBA in Marketing since September. I’m currently halfway through the course and I’ve seen a half naked Mark Ritson, which is certainly more than I bargained for.
But most of all, I’m really really glad to see that Mark has dedicated a part of one of his modules to writing good briefings.

Because it really is an art to write a comprehensive, clear and rationalized briefing. One that leaves out fluffy marketing terms but tells exactly what a media campaign should achieve. With a clear description of the target group and a clear and specific business objective.

How else can you evaluate the result of the campaign or tell your manager that you’re doing a great job? How else can you be sure that what you’re doing is actually contributing to the growth of the brand or company that you work for? How else can you judge whether the mediaplan your agency proposes is in line with your business objective?

Just thinking about this gives me a headache.