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Russel Davies: Interview with a planner

Russel Davies (we like him) is Head of Planning at W+K London since 2001. The same year he returned from the States where he worked at W+K Portland for nearly 6 years.
W+K London (Russel’s current alma mater) has won in the last 12 months: "Best Commercial of the Year" at the BTAA awards; 2 Silver Awards at 2004 Campaign Press Awards; 2 Golds for "Best Creative Brief and Briefing" and "Best Campaign for Established Product/Brand" at 2003 APG Strategic Planning Awards and most recently got a Grandy (grand Prix) at 2004 Andy Awards.
Read our interview with Russel Davies here.

Hidden: Nearly 16 years ago, John Philip Jones (in Admap) suggested that British ads under-used rational claims unlike the American ones. Apparently he observed that in Britain there seemed to be a greater emphasis on user-imagery (creative advertising), and in the US more emphasis on product functionality (advertising that sells). Nevertheless it is common knowledge that in the UK, people generally enjoy and approve of advertising, while in the US it is generally considered intrusive. Since you worked in America for nearly 6 years at W+K Portland, what are, in your personal opinion, the great cultural differences between the British and the American advertising industry?
Russell: I don't think I'm that qualified to talk about this since I only ever worked at W+K. And we're not exactly typical. But I think a lot of people get the wrong impression about advertising in the US because they don't think about the relative size of markets and the people who get to advertise.
What I mean is this - in the UK (and probably most of Europe) not many people are big enough to advertise on TV. Big brands, big retailers, people who put a lot of time and energy and thought into the advertising they do. In the US everyone gets to be on TV; car dealers, local retaillers, mom and pop stores, everyone. So TV there is the equivalent of local newspapers here.
If you actually compare like with like, I don't think the ad cultures are that different. There's hard-selling things in both markets, there are Budweiser Frogs in both markets.

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