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May 09, 2006

Advertising’s Punch in the Face

As I’ve mentioned before”I’m not an advertising atheist … just agnostic about advertising. I’ve always believed if advertising is the answer, one should question the question.”

No need to question the astuteness of Hugh MacLeod's latest riff.


Ahh yes … The Difference is Why [5] [4] [3] [2] [1].


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Always am wonderfully "taken back" by the way Hugh cuts through the noise to speak a prophetic kind of word.

I'm rereading the Cluetrain Manifesto these days - on the one hand it is so refreshing to read these notions again, and on the other hand, it remains clear that the marketplace and business world has a long way to go if they are to find their human voice.

But I'm up for the journey!

Thanks for extending the conversation!

I agree completely with this statement. Sometimes I'm so appalled at the things that commercials suggest about people in general, especially women (but I am probably just more sensitive to this being a woman) and when they show people having difficulty with the most simple tasks. It's so obnoxious when they create products that solve problems that aren't really problems until they are created by the advertisement. What makes it worse is people are falling for it.

"If you made blanket, prejudiced statements like this one about an ethnic or demographic group -- or about your customers -- they'd punch you in the face."

I really get a kick out of it when "advertising" as a whole is condemned or harshly critisized. That's like critisizing, say... vowels.

What is advertising?

It is
a corporate or group entity
in a prepared fashion
to the public
its customers
and its employees
in some combination.

Can it be done well? Yes. Can it be done badly? Oh, yes. But when you make statements that say, basically, that "advertising is bad," it's the same as saying that "companies shouldn't do it." Which is, clearly...

What? Is that what you mean? Do you think that all communication between a company and the world at large should be casual? Or press release style official, when it's "news," and "technical" when it's "how-to-use-our-products," and "chatty" when it's about "what it's like to work here" in a blog-kinda-way.

Is that what we're now saying? That there is no place for planned, strategic, designed, business communications that are intended to generate a widespread, intentional response in an audience? That there is no room for story, art, archetype, feeling, flow, brand iconography, spokesmanship... all the things that are well communicated in broad-band media?

As I've said before (here and elsewhere), customer experience is great and important to the point of being, probably, the #1 most important thing you can concentrate on. Yes. Sure. I'll almost never argue with John et al when the post is about "these things should be done better," or "word-of-mouth is a great way to add to the plan." But the idea that advertising is -- as a whole and as a medium -- bad, dead, dying, foolish, etc., I find to be... well... somewhat troubling. Just because "experience is #1" doesn't mean you can stop doing #2 though #10 well. And doing advertising well, or very well, can bring huge ROI.

We have example after example of great advertising doing wonders not just for products, but for categories. And that's our job as marketers; to move our clients' products and categories up the incline. The "Got Milk" campaign was all ads. All of it. Didn't change the "experience" of drinking milk one iota. Same for the Absolut campaign. Same for the more recent, crazy Quizno's hamster-thing-whatever critters. All ads. And they all drove huge buying decisions, didn't insult customers, were fun and did what the clients paid "us" to do -- moved the ball forward.

As a client side marketing guy, I want my marketing money to give me good ROI. If that means a balance of advertising and customer experience, by all means; balance. If that means more "experience," tilt it that way. If it means more advertising... do that.

Whatever you do, do it well. Badvertising is bad. Yes. But pouring money into crappy, over-the-top, inappropriately touchy-feely customer experience programs is just as stupid as pouring money into insultingly bad ads. Ain't it?

I just want to add that advertising is the thing by which you can sell any thing and its the back bone of internet marketing and help alot in buying and selling products.

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