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advice fish

“Forget words like ‘hard sell’ and ‘soft sell.’

That will only confuse you.

Just be sure your advertising is saying something with substance, something that will inform and serve the consumer, and be sure you’re saying it like it’s never been said before.”

=

David Ogilvy

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Whew.

 

 

Every time I see an article like “The truth about adverts: selling the White Woman™” it almost feels like my head is going to explode.

 

 

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/29/truth-adverts-white-women-hank-willis-thomas-expose#comments

 

 

marketing is evil message

Do I think advertising has perpetuated some bad myths/beliefs/messages with regard to women?

 

Sure. Maybe.

 

 

Do I think that advertising is a reflection of some societal norms <good & bad>?

 

Sure. Maybe.

 

 

Do I think that advertising perpetuates racism or fosters ignorant perceptions & attitudes with regard to certain segments of the population?

 

Sure. Maybe … well … indirectly … but certainly not intentionally <or directly>.

 

 

 

Do I think that advertising utilizes white people too much?

 

Sure. Maybe.

 

<but remember most businesses are still run by old white guys and most population & buying wealth/dollars, in the US at least, still resides within the white population … and regardless of your skin color you like to see yourself – or your aspirational you – in the things you buy>

 

 

 

Look <part 1>.

 

 

Advertising and marketing is in a challenging position.

sell hope i can

Challenging in that businesses spend money on marketing & advertising most typically to sell shit. Therefore its main goal is to … well … sell shit.

No shit sold … no money for advertising.

 

 

This means that if I represent a product and its main buying audience is white, male & blue collar … I am going to use imagery and words that will appeal to them <sometimes to the detriment to other audiences who are less likely to buy your shit>.

 

 

Now.

 

Of course you want to do it with style and substance and some sense of responsibility <not be stupid>. So any advertising person with any chops <any good> will figure out a way of not doing the stupid shit to sell shit.

 

Even then … your audience is your audience and while we would like to suggest everything is made to be created with a larger purpose of ‘bettering the world’ … to a business who only has maybe $1000 to market something that $1000 is spent on selling shit and not ‘bettering the world.’

 

 

Simplistically … you sell, market & advertise to the people who buy.

 

Simplistically … you sell to the people who buy in the most effective way that they will actually buy.

 

 

Someone can take apart imagery & words and make some very valid points with regard to the kinds of messages they send … but marketing people & advertising people are under a lot of pressure to sell shit.

And, remember, they are in the service business … they ultimately do not do anything but create … a business makes the decision on whether what they create will actually be produced and put in front of people.

 

 

 

Look <part 2>.

 

advertising society 1

Truth is appreciated but aspirational sells.

 

advertising society 2

And aspirations are tricky things in our minds … while we look around at all the messages around us and tell ourselves we are too clever to fall for this kind of media manipulation … we still walk around going about our lives disappointed in ourselves in some way … some even hating some aspect of ourself … both of which motivate us aspirationally to improve ourselves and better ourselves … even in some really wacky ways.

 

It can be embarrassing … it can make you furious … but the pressures the media and marketing puts on us makes us do some fairly wacky things.

 

 

 

Look <part 3>

 

 

 

I have worked in and out of the marketing and advertising business for <yikes> over 30 years so I feel like I have some qualifications to comment on the industry.

 

 

Everyone on the outside of the advertising business thinks those creating advertising thinks about shit that advertising people never think about.

 

 

And everyone inside the advertising business thinks about more shit than people outside the advertising could ever imagine they think about.

 

 

Suffice it to say I could gather up examples of advertising using material over 20 years and make pretty much any point I want to make – good, bad, absurd, smart, insightful or blatantly uninsightful.

 

 

Perception is not reality <in this case>.

 

 

The perception is that advertising makes shit up, makes stupid vapid shit and says nothing <as much as possible> and try and make people feel something <to sell>.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth <with the non hacks>.

 

 

The problem in advertising typically arises when the ad creators struggle to articulate the benefit <or convince themselves that it is ‘non differentiating’ and then seek to ‘differentiate’ in some form or fashion>.

 

===

reminder on how difficult finding a unique selling proposition is

http://brucemctague.com/the-only-sustainable-competitive-advantage

===

 

 

It then can unravel from there because the ‘go-to’ phrase at this point in time is ‘do something brave’ … or ‘entertaining’ or ‘edgy’ <notice nowhere in there is smart, insightful, thoughtful>.

 

 

Sure.

 

 

Great advertising messaging always is, and will be, imbued with some sense of courage.

 

 

Why?

 

Because if you want to be distinct you will not please everyone.

 

 

Now.

That sounds awesome … but the hack advertising people use that last ‘not please everyone’ thought indiscriminately to justify bad advertising.

 

 

The good advertising people use this phrase to do something smart in order to not be different … but stand ABOVE everyone else.

 

 

Yup.

 

 

Huge difference.

 

 

Hacks say ‘stand apart.’

better than yesterday

Non hacks say ‘stand above.’

 

 

And this is where I imagine articles about advertising should focus their attention on.

 

 

Why doesn’t the advertising stand above <and not be below what is good & right>?

 

 

Advertising should be smart and not talk down t people but actually enable them to rise up to the occasion … and FEEL like they are rising up to engage with that brand or company.

 

And it all has to be done with an eye toward ‘decommoditizing’ or being distinct in some meaningful way.

 

 

This is imperative because in research consumers far too often say that there is very little difference in brands within a category.

 

 

Advertising cannot be dull and uninspired … and you cannot use a small budget as an excuse.

 

In fact … the truth is that a limited budget is typically what drives innovative advertising.

 

Yup.

Inspired smart creativity tends to make each dollar be more effective <hence you can live with a smaller budget>.

 

 

In other words … a smart, insightful, relevant, entertaining ad will be more memorable than a typical ‘category sacred cow imagery’ ad therefore it needs to be seen less for the same effect.

 

 

By the way … smart means not any obvious photoshopping or any exaggerated ridiculous claims or just plain inaccurate information or anything fluffed up or untrue.

 

By the way … smart means avoiding stereotypes, typecasting and idiotic generalizations.

 

 

Note to advertising people:

We can see through those slimy tactics. Realize consumers are people … people who are smart and informed.

Make me aware of a product.

Educate me.

Relate to me.

 

 

Regardless.

 

 

I am not defending advertising but I am also suggesting an article that generalizes how advertising sucks and is misguided … is also not true.

 

 

In the end.

 

 

I will not argue that all advertising is good.

 

A lot of it is shit.

 

 

But I will argue that good advertising people, not hacks, are smart and tend to pooh test thoughtcreate smart insightful educating communication pieces that avoid the trite and stereotyping imagery.

 

I would also argue that businesses, and business decision makers, are great smart advertising’s worst enemy.

 

 

Much of the worst of worst advertising is driven by businesses who are either one of two things:

–    They are sure they know what works and has to be done <let’s call them ‘sacred cow lovers’>

–   Research tells them what to do <and research always leans toward what has been done and what people already know>

 

Ok.

 

 

I am done.

 

 

 

Last thing I know … any article that begins with “the truth about adverts” is at best a partial truth and at its worst … a non truth.

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Written by Bruce