The blog.


The garbage that is “modern advertising theory”.

The reason most people say they don’t pay attention to advertising is simple. Advertising doesn’t give them anything to pay attention to.

I saw this ad yesterday.

Before I start kicking the idea to pieces, I’d like to apologise to the writer.

I’m assuming it’s not your fault.

Whoever is responsible for this, you need to know it’s bad. Not the kind of bad that further curses advertising with the stench of opportunistic, trite and shallow commercialism. It’s not that noticeable. It’s bad in an “I-don’t-believe-someone-actually-spent-money-on-that” kind of way. Whichever gang of monkeys decided to drag the original idea into a committee room and bludgeon it to death with marketing wisdom should hang their heads in shame.

I noticed it because I’m in the market for a new car.

So new cars are on my radar.

This seems, to this idiot anyway, the sort of poster which has been put through the mincer of “best practice” and has turned out another reason (if one were needed) why most marketers should probably have nothing to do with advertising.

The theory says, “show the car”.

The practice says, ‘This ain’t no super model”.

A possible solution, put your energy into making people remember the name.

The theory says, “front three quarter.”

The practice says, “Is that the best you’ve got?”

A possible solution, show only part of the car – the part most people will find most interesting – maybe even the view from inside.

The theory would say, “Nobody reads long headlines.”

The practice would prove people read what interests them.

A possible solution, write a headline which is the engaging part of an advertising idea.

A hard-earned thirst needs a big cold beer.

From where you’d rather be.

When it absolutely, positively needs to be there overnight.

Three highly memorable lines which engaged the reader and remain trapped in the brain. Three lines which modern advertising theory suggest would be better written as; “cold” “from here” and “overnight”.

It’s a trap formed by an evil coalition of unskilled art directors and focus groups.

And a trap most committees gleefully run into because it stops them having to really think about what the customer wants, and what the customer will truly engage with.

People read what interests them.

If young people don’t read long headlines, why do they spend so much time reading the 125 characters in most Instagram posts?

(A sentence which, by the way, contains 125 characters.)

By keeping the headline short, the clever committee have simply removed any capacity for the writer, and art director, to use their skills to create an ad people will remember.

Alliteration. Metaphor. Juxtaposition. Repetition. Rhymes. Spoofs. Parodies. Playing with reality. Over-promise. Under-promise. Reframing. Perspectives. Stories. Alternate uses. All proven effective time after time after time.

If you’re going to interrupt someone’s day, hoping to get them to buy what you’re selling, make it worth their while.

If you can’t make it worth their while, don’t run the ad.

Happily, later in the day I saw the latest Repco campaign. “It all starts with the parts”.

Memorable. Interesting. Engaging.

I don’t even know what a spare part is.

But I think I know where I’d start looking for them if I did.

 

The Unifying Theory of Marketing

There are two distinct schools of marketing.

The “Data Is Everything” school – The Scientists.

And the “If You Don’t Get Noticed Everything Else Is Academic” school – The Big Bangers.

I can’t figure if they’re like the Christians and the Jews (both believing in the same god, but trying hard to convince consumers the only real way to get the benefit of the product is with their brand) or like Catholics and Anglicans (both selling the same brand, but trying hard to convince consumers the only real way to get the benefit of the product is with their model).

Based on the conversations we’re hearing over here in the shallow end of the internet, both schools, like the two sides of modern politics, seem to believe the only way to convince non-believers is to take a very black and white view.

It’s no surprise really.

The whole world has become a chaotic scramble for people’s attention.

And it’s hard to write a headline which grabs someone’s attention when the point you want to make is, “It’s a bit of both, a relevant balance, an appropriate dollop of I’m sorry I drifted off when you started being dull.”

(Quick aside. Before anyone writes in and says, “Headlines are so old school, it’s not about headlines it’s about visuals, it’s about the story, it’s starting a conversation with the audience, it’s creating an engaging experience” please, with respect, take your overly pedantic point and shove it up your clacker. It’s the people who make those points who are to blame for the ongoing I’m Right You’re Wrong mess we find ourselves in.)

The answer is simple.

It comes down to understanding the purpose of marketing. (Not purpose-driven marketing. That’s a tactic dressed up as a strategy. Sorry.) What is the purpose of what you’re doing?

Surely the answer has to be, “Creating value.”

You’re either giving people permission to pay more for a product.

Or you’re finding a way to reduce the cost to serve the product.

For the Scientists, the road to value is largely paved with media channels and repetition.

Their path to value appeals to people who love the smell of ROI in the morning. They can see exactly where the effectiveness happens, but can’t necessarily put their finger on the trigger.

For the Big Bangers, the road to value is probably signposted with a panda trying to shag a stuffed cat, paved black and white and smelling of bamboo and tiger wee. Their path to value appeals to people who want to get people’s attention. They can’t necessarily tell you how effective their efforts are, but they can tell you exactly why it’s so-o-o-oo effective.

And, yes, I am treating both camps with an overly simplistic view.

Because they’re worth it.

Marketing is, in theory, a simple game.

Create value.

Maintain value.

Harvest value.

Pick the path you’re most comfortable with. It’s like Bryson deChambeau’s golf swing. It works for him and everyone else can laugh but he’s leading the money list and he’s just won two of the biggest tournaments in the world, in a row.

The two marketing methods.mentioned above can be incredibly effective. And both can be a colossal waste of time and money.

There are other ways.

But, the theory stands.

If you do create value, you win.

If you don’t create value, you fail.

It’s as easy as that.