Why Do Clients Deserve the Advertising They Get?

You don’t have to watch much TV or read many newspapers to see there’s bad advertising out there. But why is there so much of it? We’ve all heard the cliche: Clients get the advertising they deserve. But agency folks need to understand that most clients see this as an excuse from an industry they perceive disappoints far more than it impresses.

The cliche, however, is inescapably true. So, the more critical question is: What did clients do to deserve the advertising they get?

It’s actually what they didn’t do. They get the advertising they “deserve” because they’re unwilling and/or incapable of addressing the internal factors that condemn them to a fate of consistently ineffective creative.

Much has been written about the keys to great advertising. Be focused. Take risks. Identify and reduce the decision makers. These actions are necessary, but not sufficient. A marketer must also take the following critical steps to have any hope of having great, breakthrough advertising:

Recognize and accept the role (and limitations) of advertising. As impactful as advertising can be, it cannot overcome a bad business model or improve customer service. Organizations must be honest with themselves when identifying the factors adversely impacting business results. The most common misconception is that advertising can improve a company’s brand image. Sometimes it can. If a company truly has a great product and/or delivers a great customer experience, advertising can “tell the story” so that the public becomes aware and learns to appreciate the firm. But don’t look for advertising to be a cure-all for every business problem.

Only allow “advertising-skilled” marketers to be involved in the process. The good news is, most organizations realize that advertising is key to the success of the business. As a result, however, many want to have a say about, or be able to “play” with, the advertising. That’s not good. Advertising is not a toy. It’s a critical business process that should only be practiced by skilled professionals. You wouldn’t let your HR department help design a manufacturing process. So, why does a finance manager get to comment on advertising creative?

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