Friday, July 13, 2007

Bombs Away

“Advertising” in whatever form, is all over the place. I’m in the business, and even I get sick of it sometimes. For example, we were talking about sports events in the car on the way to work this morning. The Seventh-Inning Stretch has become the Sponsored By So-And-So Seventh Inning Stretch. Times-outs are sponsored. Around-the-league updates are sponsored. A basketball or hockey arena has one sponsor and the floor or the ice has another. Promotional events like pizza box races or trivia quizzes by some Clown With a Microphone in The Stands are all brought to you by somebody.

It’s not just sports. You can’t open up a web page without some sort of pop-up cluttering the screen. The Sunday paper is another great example of horrible intrusions. The Washington Post TV guide includes this wretched tabbed insert that sticks out and interferes with using the thing. My guess is that most people – like me – rip it out and throw it away. The comics and supplements bag is full of forgettable inserts.

Ok, so we all know advertising is everywhere. What’s my point?

My point is that it seems like there is so much advertising in so many places that agencies (who should know better), marketers (who should know better) and advertisers (who may or may not know better) try to overcome the numbing effect of the plethora of messages that bombard us by using even more messages. In more new and different ways. Read the advertising trades and you’re always coming across a story about how someone has developed some new medium – a new way to put ads on a grocery cart, a different kind of Internet intrusion or a new way to put a sticker on the front page of a publication.

As often as not, for some inexplicable reason, these stories are accompanied by great cheers and high-fives all around. As if creating more clutter was some kind of accomplishment.

But it’s like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. Responding to the mountains of advertising crap by adding more mountains of advertising crap.

Speaking of media advertising alone (defining "media" loosely and setting aside just for the moment a discussion of new, innovative and effective approaches to marketing and marketing communications) it seems to me like it would be a whole lot better and a ton more cost-efficient to simply work harder to do better advertising. More engaging, entertaining, informative and rewarding bits of creative. Invest a little more time and money into the work and give it the air to stand out in an overcrowded competitive arena. If you’re going to do media advertising, do it well. Don’t waste your money.

This all applies to individual advertisers as well as advertisers in general. For example, there is an institution here in Washington (sorry, no names) that runs perfectly dreadful print and television advertising. But they run a whole lot of it, so their awareness level is pretty high. My guess is – and I’d say it’s a good guess – they could accomplish the same awareness with a much lower media budget if the creative itself was compelling and memorable. I’ve never thought it was terribly cost-efficient to try to buy market share with your media budget.

In the right hands, creativity can be a pretty damn practical, cost-efficient business tool.

We – and I count myself as part of the general public here – don’t want to see more of the stuff. We want to see better stuff.


1 comment:

monque said...

Not gonna name the institution that runs all that advertising - that is SO NOT fun!