I went last night for my first training sesssion at Concept 10 10 here in Dubai, this is a very different approach to the gym that uses very heavy weight against isolated muscle groups, doing very slow repetitions until you reach muscle failure point – and if you can hold out for too long (2.5 minutes in their book) then the weights are increased. A little bit masochistic I may hear you say, and I’m thinking a little so this morning, but there is a lesson here, both for our bodies and our minds as it applies to what we do on a daily basis and how we can make advertising and communications perform better.
There are three points to their system where we can make the parallels to communications – with the weight intensity, the focus on one muscle at a time (and sometimes those we wouldn’t think about) and finally the time left for our body to recover from the damage before going at it again.
1. Weight intensity
The first is the intensity of the weight, amounting to what is almost impossible for your muscles, meaning that the objective is to make it impossible to move forward and therefore it breaks down existing mucle tissue – here we can find a very close correlation to the concept of disruption from TBWA\ as standard weight training us makes us do countless repetitions with weights that are within our range here we try to take us way beyond our comfort zone. This is what communications needs to do, it has to be so different to what we are accustomed to that it breaks down our way of thinking about a product or service – recent work from JetBlue on their Ground Rules does a great job of this as it shocks both the participant and the viewer with an extremely different way of looking at something we are used to, and it does this through a medium (the hot dog stand) where we most definitely aren’t expecting it. So the question may not be can we still drive products with functional benefits (Ariel makes whiter whites), but how do we portray those benefits in a way that the consumer wasn’t expecting to see them. This is clearly a function both of the medium and the message and we need to start working up ideas in this way rather than simply as a TV spot, a web banner or a microsite and then thinking about how we broadcast them.
2. Focus on a single muscle
The six machines in the gym all focus on a single muscle at each time and the trainer is constantly driving focus on relaxing the rest of the body; be it the abdomen, the lower back, the neck it is key to work this individual muscle (to the extreme) and leave the others at rest. This is about segmentation, it is about focus on a particular issue in a particular place and not the broad ranging work that will touch men and women 25-40 years old, which might amount to half of a country’s population. As we move into an era of multiple channels and the ultimate amount of clutter, only a message that is relevant for a particular person will have a chance of success – some lifestyles are apt to receive outdoor communication in combination with radio on their way to work whilst others (potentially in the same demographic) never set foot in a car on a highway and listen to music on their mobile while travelling on the metro – focus means the right message to the right person at the right time and therefore on a channel that is relevant for them at that moment. Here again we need to take segmentation and media planning and look carefully at which channels are apt and relevant for our particular consumer – channel planning is a new and emerging skillset lost in limbo between creative and media agencies but it will very quickly become the key skillset in making sure that communications are effective.
3. Once a week
Finally, this 30 minute torture session is only carried out once a week since it is so extreme and breaks down muscle fibre they need a chance to regenerate and be shocked into submission the next session. A more intense calendar would not allow the regeneration and be potentially damaging to the body. When we go outside the normal (too far) we have to do this with the right dosage, too much can cause offense and sometimes harm, but too little will not have the desired effect. When we plan the delivery of these intense messages we have to think at how and how often we will touch the consumer, so beyond basic media flighting, we have to understand how the different channels will interact to create the desired, disruptive, effect but also allow them to then return to their lives without damaging the ‘normal’. No longer can we plan media in isolation of creative since the message itself will determine how often we can ‘impose’ it upon the consumer.
So what does all this mean? It means thinking harder about creative, working harder to break down existing ways of thinking to cut through the clutter and make an impact, and at an operational level it means that creative and media must now work together – not closer, not integrated, but together and this is probably what will be the greatest challenge for the agency model moving forward.
The above is a very simple summary and analogy of the Concept 10 10 system which should always be carried out by a professional trainer – you can find more information about their services on the Concept 10 10 site.