Robert Campbell
Oct 17, 2013

All I really needed to know in adland I learned from my mum

Though she still doesn't seem to quite understand what I really do, my mum gave me the piece of advice that makes the most difference in my work.

All I really needed to know in adland I learned from my mum

So the lovely people at Campaign have asked me to write a blog. Given there’s way more risk to their credibility in me doing this than mine…I thought i'd give it a go. The thing is, what do I write about?

I certainly don't want to talk about what's going on in the industry—not just because the magazine and the other columnists do a far better job of it than I ever could—but because i think we spend far too much time talking about ourselves rather than understanding what's going on in the real world.

So instead i'm going to talk about my mum.

My wonderful, beautiful, kind and clever 80-year-old mum.

You see while I have been incredibly fortunate to have been mentored, managed and bollocked by some of the industry's greatest leaders and clients, it's my mum who gave me the advice that really made a difference to the work I do.

Now given she never worked in adland—and still doesn’t quite grasp what I specifically do for a living—you won't be surprised to learn it has nothing to do with proprietary tools, universal insights or real-time engagement models.

It’s simply to "care about what others care about".

Note, she’s didn't say 'listen to what others care about', but care about it as well.

Now, I appreciate in these big-data times, we have incredible amounts of powerful and influential information that can tell us all sorts of important stuff—and i'm not knocking any of that. However, knowing what people do is not the same as knowing why they do it, and given humans are complicated, hypocritical, irrational and emotional things, this lack of emotional context and purpose has the power to undermine effectiveness and brand value rather than drive it.

So while I applaud all the wonderful things that are going on with efficiencies of process, I still subscribe to my mum’s advice that convenience Is no substitute for meaningfulness.

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