Copy testing doesn’t lead to memorable ads

Copy testing doesn’t work. The proof is in the pudding: If 90 percent of the top 100 marketers copy test, as was cited in Adweek’s cover story last week [“Why the Traditional Focus Group Is Dying,” Oct. 31], then we should reasonably expect most ads we see each day to be incredibly engaging, memorable and effective. Yet one doesn’t need to work in this industry to know this is not the case—one needs only to watch 10 minutes of prime-time television.

The truth is, while the amount of money spent on advertising research has increased exponentially over the last decade, the actual effectiveness of advertising has not. Great, effective marketing comes out of processes that nurture wide-ranging exploration rather than narrowly defined perfection. Copy testing derails the explorative process by pushing communications toward pre-defined norms.

In his 1967 book Strategy in Advertising, Leo Bogart wrote that the Great Idea in advertising is “in the realm of myth, to which measurements cannot apply.” I’d like to know which marketers make up the 10 percent of those who don’t copy test. My bet is that their ads are the few we actually enjoy, remember and admire.

Jennifer Colman

Director of strategic planning

Wieden + Kennedy

New York

You don’t need a million bucks to make a PSA

Wendy Melillo’s article [“PSAs Fight to Be Heard,” Oct. 31] gave the impression that nonprofits had to have million-dollar budgets to produce and distribute PSAs. The reality is that most PSAs are produced and distributed for budgets ranging from $50,000 to the low six figures. West Glen Communications distributes more PSA campaigns than any other organization in the country; this year, we’ll distribute about 70 campaigns to TV and radio stations, print outlets and the Internet. We’re able to arrange for strong nationwide coverage, which translates into millions of dollars of donated ad time.

We work very closely with advertising agencies across the country who produce PSAs pro bono but whose clients have only limited funds for distribution and placement.

While there has always been competition for free airtime and space, networks and local stations across the country continue to support PSAs, whatever their source.

Stanley S. Zeitlin


West Glen Communications

New York

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