Why the Ad People Don’t Do Ads

Right before this writer moved from the up-and-coming Chicago neighborhood (which, translated, is “if you don’t own a gun, you probably shouldn’t be living in this area”) he was in for a year, he got to his car one morning and found this flyer on the windshield. No idea what it was selling now, but he remembers the campaign. It was a series of very stiff photos of people interacting with cartoon bubbles serving as the dialogue. Just horribly bad and unintentionally funny. But the interesting thing was that a third of the page was dedicated to credits. The name of the actors, the photographer, the designer who did the layout. The biggest, taking up about half of this space, was the ad agency’s logo. Now how often do you see that? That’s what we immediately thought of when we ran across this re-printed Brandweek article, “Why Don’t Ad Agencies Advertise?” Now, if this isn’t either a rallying cry or something to make you mad on a Friday afternoon, nothing will do the trick. It’s a great read that offers both historical insight and a call-to-arms to agencies to stop putting out bad work. Here’s some from the big punch:

So if agencies aren’t advertising, why should anyone else? Deutsch built his business without an ad campaign spare that one ad. So have Starbucks, Google and countless others. Two years ago 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, one of America’s fastest growing franchises, relied heavily on pr to sell 50 franchises. They spent only $1,800 in ads versus the hundreds of thousands of dollars other franchisors spent to accomplish the same results.

In truth, it’s what’s in the advertising that is not working. Ad agencies are doing a poor job creating messages that affect long-term value for their clients. Along with the media in which it exists, advertising has been commoditized. Most agencies struggle to justify their own value in a sea of sameness. While they try to sell their clients on their “unique perspective” and their ability to balance “creative and strategy,” other marketing tactics like buzz marketing and targeted pr are delivering long-term, measurable results for marketers and further eroding any perceived value advertising enjoyed.