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23 MARCH 2019


Tuesday, 30 August 2016 09:31
Comment: Ad execs admit that 90% of their work goes unnoticed
Isn't there a better way to build a brand?  

I spent some time this week reading the advertising industry magazine Campaign.

I have already commented on its suggestion that the Olympics is "an achievement in sexism and stereotyping" (see Are you guilty of a teensy-weensy bit of stereotyping?).

I then browsed through the rest of the articles, focusing on the comment pieces from industry gurus, of which there were many. What struck me was the number that said what dreadful ads were currently being run, how those in advertising were the only people who thought there was any value in what they did, and that the annual bash in the south of France where gongs are distributed for what is suggested is an art form was a farce. This is because the majority of people spend their lives trying to avoid advertising at any price. They loath advertising, and wouldn't care if they never saw another - on the TV, on their phones, on their computers or in a magazine.

Hermeti Balarin, executive creative director of Mother London wrote: "We talk about it. We scrutinise it. We dissect it. We write entire publications about it. We give each other accolades for it. ...Sadly no-one else does. They despise it. They dislike it. They feel bothered by it. Interrupted by it. They are annoyed with it. If given half a chance, they'll skip it. They'll block it. In fact, if they could, they would never look at it ever again."

Andy Nairn, founding partner of Lucky Generals wrote: "The world is a terrifying place right now. A place where moronic ads follow us around the interwebs, trying to sell us stuff we've already bought a month ago. A place where industry commentators seriously suggest that ads like these can replace genuine creativity.”

Mick Mahoney, chief creative officer for Ogilvy & Mather London wrote: "Brands are in decline. According to an OgilvyRed study, 77% of UK consumers claim that brands don't matter to them. In fact, 75% of brands are so meaningless to people that they wouldn't miss those brands if they disappeared tomorrow. Brands are no longer a proxy for quality.

"Now with this as a backdrop, consider that 90% of advertising goes unnoticed. Ads are not getting searched for either. More than four billion YouTube videos are viewed every day. but only one in a million is branded content."

Mahoney pointed out that there are two million more brands than there were in 2000, so brand proliferation, together with media proliferation (lots more channels) is resulting in information fatigue.

But the advertising industry is not about to give up its golden goose. Mahoney suggests that because it is getting more difficult to differentiate a brand, companies should spend more to achieve it! Ha! And at the same time, add a little social relevance. This means "creating ideas that can generate or join conversations bigger than the advertising. Brands therefore, need to be relevant to people, and cut through the noise."

Okay. We get it. But if advertising executives are admitting they fast forward through the commercial breaks, and that brand advertising is futile anyway, isn't the advertising industry flogging a dead horse?

If they don't have faith in what they do, why are they putting us through so much eye watering boredom in order to watch commercial TV, or increasingly, use a search engine or social media platform?

All those unfulfilled, frustrated advertising executives almost make me feel sad.

If advertising is pointless, with little recall, and if it gets customers' backs up, isn't there a better way to persuade us to buy stuff? Aren't there alternatives to advertising to prompt brand recognition and to get customers to repeat purchase and develop a fondness for a brand. I will leave the loyalty business to think of an answer to these questions by themselves.

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