How marketers overcomplicate executing strategy – the hilariously pointed lessons of the ‘Designing the Stop Sign’ video

According to Richard Branson, “Complexity is your enemy.  Any fool can make something complicated.  It is hard to make something simple”.   It’s ironic then how much marketing tends to overcomplicate things, given that Branson is one of the profession’s most popular pin-up boys.

Our last post for 2013 held a comic mirror up to some of the short comings of strategy development.  So it seemed appropriate that our first post for 2014 should feature a humorous take on some of the all too common foibles of strategy execution, in the form of the following ‘classic’ video, The Process (also known as Designing the Stop Sign).

This doesn’t need much commentary.  If you’ve been involved in developing marketing campaigns you’ll quickly recognise the truths in it.

Ask yourself how many times does the opportunity for a clear and focused strategy get derailed by phone book sized plans or briefs packed with irrelevant information, the accommodation of multiple ‘expert’ opinions, group think, consensus decision making,  and/or a lack of plain language.  (To this last point, internet marketing speak has probably made things worse than when David Ogilvy observed “Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon”).

Watch the video. (If you’ve seen it before, watch it again).  Laugh.  Share it with your team. Think about whether the way you go about things is really free from these shortcomings. Learn. And then make the approach to your next campaign better.

Image Credit: Rich Anderson

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