The Y Plan Test


The London based events and ticketing service Y Plan are currently running the above ad campaign. In one simple poster they have managed to both skewer advertising as it exists today, and show other brands the path to success in the future.

Quite simply, in today’s connected world, a good business shouldn’t need “advertising”. Awareness? Yes. Naturally you need people to be aware you exist. But advertising, where you try and argue people into using your product or service? No. A well positioned business, that does something genuinely worthwhile in the world should be able to sell itself – just as Y Plan seek to do here.

All the iconic brands of today are “worthwhile”. They inherently do things that make them valuable, without the need for spin or trickery. Google, as well as providing a much valued utility, use their billions to experiment widely with a number of future building concepts. Red Bull, whilst at their heart manufacturing “just another energy drink”, provide inspiration and entertainment to millions through their pioneering contributions to extreme sport and human endeavour.

Following this thread all the way down to the more humble end of the scale, where brands don’t necessarily have world changing ambitions, the same principle applies. The Happy Egg Co, the UK’s largest egg brand simply provide eggs from hens with lovely living standards. Lidl provide a supermarket which is simply dirt cheap. One way or another though every one of these companies is doing something worthwhile, something that the market either needs or wants. They are not “me too” brands, or consortiums trying to exploit a market trend. They matter.

Because of this, all of these businesses would be able to take the same advertising approach of Y Plan – to simply state, in plain English what it is they do and why, and collect customers because of it. No funny business, just great businesses.

So I would implore every brand to take the Y Plan test: spell out in the same manner what what it is your business does. Is this alone unique? Is it ownable? Is it interesting? Is it necessary? Would this alone be enough to make you successful?

If the answer is yes, then congratulations, you’re ready to face the future. If not, then you know it’s not your advertising that needs tweaking – it’s your business itself.

So let’s talk.


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Welcome to Basic Arts, a community of people changing brands and culture through a new advertising discipline called ‘basic’.

Basic is at its heart a technique of building interesting and meaningful companies, rather than interesting and meaningful advertising. It’s something that the most inspiring businesses today do instinctively, allowing them to not only create powerful brands, but also to influence society for the better.

By codifying this behaviour, giving it language that all businesses can share, we seek to make it accessible for all brands – not just the radical few.

Over time, our goal is to see the £500,000,000,000 that companies spend annually in media making brand promises be, at least in part, redirected to making those promises a reality.

Here are some things you can expect from us over the coming months:

  • Thought and ideas through our friends in the media and academia
  • Education programs for brands and agencies through independent trade bodies
  • The creation of some unique and inspiring businesses

In the meantime we here at Basic Arts are always on the look out for new opportunities to inspire people with this better way of working – so whoever you are, do get in touch as we’d love to see what we can do together. We’re based at Second Home in Shoreditch, London, and you can reach us at: