BBH’s Johnny Tan: ‘The better you sell, the less scam there will be’

johnny tanCreatives must learn to sell their ideas better to clients in order to prevent scam advertising, according to BBH China’s chief creative officer Johnny Tan.

Speaking at Spikes Asia, Tan said creatives need to improve their selling techniques in order for “game-changing” ideas to get past a client who is nervous of risk and obsessed with big data.

“The world desperately needs good ideas, ideas that change the world. But unfortunately, a lot of clients right now are risk adverse, they’re data obsessed,” he told the audience. “They’re building walls to make it harder to see ideas come to life. If we don’t acknowledge this today and do something about it, it’s going to be hard to get good ideas out there.

“The better you sell, the less scam there will be,” he added.

Scam is advertising created to win awards rather than to solve a particular brief. Earlier this year, a number of questions were raised about the legitimacy of Australian entries into the Print category of Spikes’ sister festival The Cannes Lions.

When pitching an idea to a client it all comes down to how it is said, rather than what is said, Tan suggested.

“In any kind of persuasion, 70 per cent of it is how you say it, 30 per cent is what you say,” he told delegates.

He offered “four P’s” to help creatives better sell their ideas: preparation, performance, passion and personal.

According to Tan “nothing is more important” than preparation.

“You’ve gotta make it look easy,” he said. “The shorter the presentation,the longer the time you need to prepare.”

Performance was next with Tan urging creatives not “to make a speech” but to “put on a show”, adding that eye contact and voice projection are key.

“It seems unimportant, but trust me, it’s going to make a lot of difference,” he said.

He described passion as “really critical”, stressing “there is nothing more annoying than someone going up there and sounding like a used car salesman”.

Tan also told creatives to be personal when dealing with their clients.

“Nobody wants to talk to a robot. People want to hear anecdotes,” he said. “People want to laugh, they want to hear why it matters to you so much.”

Miranda Ward at Spikes Asia


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.