What’s Wrong With Advertising Today

What’s Wrong With Advertising Today
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He rarely pulls any punches and B&T’s favourite contrarian columnist, Robert Strohfeldt from Strohfeldt Consulting, is back with his latest missile. This time railing against technologies affecting advertising’s process and outcomes…

The “formula: for successful advertising”, according to one of the most successful (in terms of sales, not quality) Adtech companies today is: “The worst thing an ad campaign can do is exhaust precious budget with no results. You want to start with clear goals in mind of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to measure success, so you can easily tell what’s working and what’s not.”

Before you start any campaigns, keep in mind Marketo’s advertising formula for success.

• 40 per cent audience (the who): targeting and keywords
• 40 per cent offer (the what): a specific product, content, or event
• 20 per cent everything else (the ad): headline, copy, and images.

I was going to blank out their name but screw it. If they are going to publish this sort of shit they need to be called out for it.

If advertising agencies are to survive, we need to get rid of this stupid artificial divide between digital and traditional.  Digital is just another medium, as radio and then TV where they first arrived.

The problem is not with digital per se, rather the crap that is being taught with it. As our next generation comes through they are being told “everything is different” and there has been an apartheid attitude between old/traditional/legacy media and digital.

When I recently wrote an article on this topic, a “digital” advertiser (it was in his title), wrote in to tell me creative departments used to have “the TV guy”. What a croc of shit.  The creative department did everything from TV to POS, DM mailers to radio.

The above “formula” shows a lack of understanding of the basics of advertising, the likes of which I have never seen in my 33- year career.

The issues?

  • Stating the bleeding obvious to start with. Bloody hell I thought the best thing an advertiser could do was to piss their budget up against a wall. But the opening highlights the depth of thinking in this so- called formula.
  • There is no “formula” for advertising, with percentages being allocated to various elements of an ad. There is no mention of a Brief – the foundation of all advertising. (Be it computers or advertising, rubbish in = rubbish out)
  • 40 per cent goes to the audience (the who). Some 40 per cent of fucking what? Again, I have never seen anything so stupid in my life. A totally different topic, but so much “segmentation” of target markets does not exist. Rich people buy expensive cars, women buy feminine hygiene products, but the same people buy say Porsche, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz SUVs. (The so- called psychological profiles are BS).
  • 40 per cent the offer. So, all advertising is offer/short term/tactical? Fuck the brand.
  • And the classic “20 per cent” everything else – the headline, the copy and the images. In other words, the heart and soul of the ad. This is the actual ad itself. Only a digital dickhead could come up with something as stupid as this. (“The world is flat”, or “The world is the centre of the universe and every other heavenly body revolves around it” are sound statements in comparison).

I have said it so many times that anyone who has read my articles must be sick of hearing it. When I first joined an ad agency with the qualifications of BSc Pure and Statistical Mathematics, it was a qualification that had no apparent relevance at the time – but I did learn vey early on that creativity cannot be formularised.

I have met people who do believe that a million monkeys in a room, each with a typewriter, will ultimately produce Shakespeare, given long enough. (Further discussion with these people reveals they are tone deaf and think Phantom comics are the height of literary excellence.)

Rory Sutherland, from Ogilvy in the UK, was spot on when he said IT people and engineers (Silicon Valley) think differently to creative people. I come from a family of engineers and scientists and can attest to this.

Any musician will tell you that soul and feel cannot come from a machine. (I said musician, not a DJ or Rapper).

If advertising agencies are to survive we need to go back to the basic concept of “It’s the Message Stupid”. Whether this message is carried by TV or online is irrelevant. But media and creative need to work together again to provide a total solution.

Is it too late? It is getting awfully close to midnight when AdTech firms are publishing shit like this and major advertisers are buying it.

STOP PRESS: An article in today’s The Australian predicting “Amazon will eventually sell every car in North America”. (Amazon has never paid a dividend and is not profitable. It could turn out to be the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time, but the digital gurus keep pushing it.) Disruption and digital transformation are in every second business story, along with future predictions.

The predictions for how the car market will operate are very similar to how the it operated in Japan in 1991. The bleeding obvious is breathlessly being pushed by people who claim to know what the future holds.  Forget “digital transformation” – it was obvious in the late 80s what computerisation would do. I saw a paperless office in 1983. A whole industry has grown out of predicting – half of it totally obvious, the other half a huge gamble. I have properties with Airbnb – hopeless. So many “disruptors” have come in only to open a market and underperform. Netflix is being touted by this group of savvy future predictors. None of whom saw the 2008 crash, and many were responsible for it. Netflix, trading at over 170 to one is the last company I would buy stock in!

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