Of Monkeys & Wonderbras

wonderbra billboard

Why billboards are more effective than PowerPoint.

The recession has been good for ethical businesses, said Alexis Bouckaert. We’re all a bunch of self-centered monkeys, said Rowan Manahan.

The comments came at this month’s Refresh Dublin in the Science Gallery where the speakers tackled goodvertising and presentation skills.

Bouckaert (@alexisbouckaert), a digital creative director and designer at Rothco, spoke of how companies are tapping in to consumers’ concerns about the environment and ethics. He said the “unease that inspired anti-globalism has become mainstream.” Although firms have responded to meet these concerns, there are pitfalls for the unwary.

“There is a danger of backlash if a brand seems to be disingenuous,” he said citing the example of Dove’s Onslaught video. This was released to warn adverse effects beauty advertising can have on girls. Greenpeace, however, mocked the video because of the damage being done to tropical rain forests by the cosmetics industry. Both can be seen below.

Examples of companies trying to tap in to the new sentiment include Kenco Coffee which claims to use 97% less packaging; TOMS Shoes‘ one-for-one program where it gives away a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair bought; and HP’s Summit on the Summit to raise awareness for “the global clean-water crisis.”

In dealing with advertising agencies, Bouckaert suggested checking their clients, asking if the did pro bono work or if they have a statement of corporate social responsibility. Rothco, of course, is providing free accommodation for 24 The Web on Nov. 13. This is a 24-hour competition to develop three web sites for charity. You can read about that here.

Manahan (@Rowan_Manahan), meanwhile, followed Bouckaert by saying, “They call me the insultant.” His mission was to advise on how to make effective presentations. Although his talk was titled, If Powerpoint Is The Answer, It Must Have Been A Stupid Question, Manahan said it can be an effective tool if used properly.

“I think PowerPoint gets a bum rap,” because many presentations are “bullet-ridden, incomprehensible, brain-dump, gibberish nonsense,” he said.

The four main sins committed by presenters are that they are: lazy, self-centered, imitative or careless, Manahan said.

But then he offered up three tips for better presentations.

Find your story. Even a seemingly dry corporate-accounts presentation tells a story, Manahan said. It could be how the company overcame adversity during a recession or improved sales. He also said the presenter should keep the audience’s interest in mind. What do you want to achieve? What’s a win? People are interested in their own situations. A pitch that makes life easier, increases profits, etc., will be well received.

Unleash your inner nerd. Use the presenter tools in PowerPoint to store speaker notes, refresh your memory and stay on track while showing the audience simple slides that tell a story.

The 60 mph test. People are very reliant on visual cues, Manahan said. Outdoor advertising is a great example. They have large pictures and few words to get their point across. As an example, he put up the old Wonderbra ad (top) for three seconds and then asked the audience if they could remember the point. After that, he put up a wordy slide for five seconds and asked the same question. People will not retain information in wordy slides, he said. “We know scientifically that does not happen.” Noting we share 95% of our DNA with monkeys, Manahan suggested thinking “of how you will appeal to that simple brain.”

Tying all of that together is rehearsal, he said. If you have been allocated 10 minutes to speak, do not go over. “These three [earlier points] are huge, but if you don’t do the rehearsal, please stay at home.”

Addition added Sept. 24: Manahan’s slides are below. Another take on the talk can be found on Julie O’Donnell’s site.