Saliency Works

For the past few weeks, I have heard the word salience more times

than my mother has used my name. Yes, that is actually very sad. It is

entirely up for discussion as to whether this is because salience has

actually been brought up a lot, or due to the fact that my mother

doesn’t talk to me. However, that’s irrelevant (and not nice to talk

about). Today, in about 500 words (I hope), I am going to talk to you

about salience (shock), and why standing out amongst a sea of

similar shit, could actually be the key to success. In fact, it has

already helped me.

When I’m out in the real world, the majority of advertising looks the

same. To be honest, it is all pretty boring. Especially in places like the

tube, the collection of adverts really reminds me of copying

homework off of your mate but changing the words a bit so you

don’t get caught. Advertising, or shit advertising, is really formulaic.

Everyone does the same thing, plays it safe, and nothing gets

remembered. Job not well done.

When the job is well done, the advert gets remembered. The key to

being remembered is salience. For me, salience can be achieved in

various ways. Being different, whether it is cleverly, weirdly or

outrageously, seems to be the best method. When we have talked

about salience, one idea that comes up a lot is the ‘Cadbury’s

Gorilla’. A really salient advert. Sure, one could argue that it is

strange. Another may argue that the gorilla is out of place. However,

that’s the point. The weirdness of it as a whole makes it a topic of

discussion and ultimately unforgettable. It sticks in people’s minds,

just as all great advertising should do.

Between all the salience talk, there is also a lot of discussion at SCA

about portfolios. Given that we are being judged by the portfolios

that we create, this makes sense. However, what didn’t make sense

to me, what do we even put in these portfolios? The work we do

here? The work we do elsewhere? Both? I wouldn’t say that I was

baffled, but I was not really sure. Although it is still early days, I was

getting a bit concerned with this uncertainty, so I went out into the

big wide world for advice.

Lucky for me, this uncertainty was quickly cleared up after reaching

out to someone in the industry who was kind enough to meet up for

a chat. For me, it felt like this single meeting alone alleviated a huge

weight off my shoulders. Initial senses of being really overwhelmed

were largely sorted out and my whole perspective and approach to

the course has changed. This meeting was a valuable experience and

honestly, would not have been achieved without being salient. I’ll

explain why.

I’ve noticed that a great space for finding creatives is Twitter.

Everyone seems to be on there, sharing their work, thoughts or

shocking football takes. Regardless, it really is a great place to

connect with new people and expand your network. When I first got

Twitter, I sent a couple messages out to people within the industry

asking whether they would be willing to share their wisdom and

offer any advice. These messages went along the lines of, “Hi, my

name is Travis, I am an aspiring bla bla bla, I love your work bla bla

bla”. The type of stuff that everyone and their mums say.

Unsurprisingly, no meaningful replies.

As my hope began to fall, so did my decorum. I went from formal,

well-written and wholesome messages to borderline illiteracy. And it

worked an absolute charm. After about two weeks of zero success, I

finally got a reply. More than that, I finally got an opportunity to

meet with someone in the industry who was happy to get a coffee

and share their tips. During this meeting, they were kind enough to

show me examples of stuff I should and shouldn’t put in my

portfolio. They also showed me work that they had done, explained

their thoughts behind it, and went through loads of clever creative

techniques that had helped them throughout their career. Honestly,

It was an invaluable encounter that I was and am really grateful for.

This was the start of our interaction.

Yes, that is the opening message of this super valuable interaction.

After sending that message, I really thought to myself, what is the

worst that could actually happen? That’s a lie, I didn’t think about

anything. I just sent it because it was funny to me. But Sure, they

might think I’m strange and not reply. But they didn’t. They actually

replied. And honestly, I think it was down to being salient and

standing out. This person probably had a lot of DMs already. In fact,

they actually mentioned that they did receive messages almost every

day. If you had access to these messages, you’d probably find a load

of aspiring creatives who all similarly admire their work and

understand that they have a very busy schedule. A lot of unanswered

messages, most likely. But despite this, I managed to get a reply, a

meeting and a great opportunity. Salience starts conversations, and

this instance is just another example of it.


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