Why we hate (most) advertising.

August 1, 2012 / Advertising

We have a real love/hate relationship with the advertising business.

And the “hate” part is winning more and more lately, as it has been since the “dot.com” revolution.

Advertising has become a non-stop, almost minute-by minute marathon of interruptions and intrusions, which, for the most part, we resent.

They waste our time and insult our intelligence.

And they don’t provide the slightest clue as to why the product being advertised will actually improve what we do or how we do it.

Now, remember, we’re talking about “most” advertising.

There was a time, and occasionally still is, when we are both entertained and informed by advertising.

Those experiences have become fewer and farther between. But they still exist.

The Apple guy’s conversation with the hapless PC guy comes to mind from a few years back.

That campaign offered continual, humorous reminders that we made a wise choice when we bought that new Mac — or, if we were a PC user, a reminder that a switch to Apple could improve our quality of digital life.

The IBM Smarter Planet campaign is another example of advertising that instructs and inspires — a welcome intrusion.

Now, here’s the kicker.

We should love advertising. It’s the business we spend our working life in. And have for years.

So why are we so down on the craft we practice?

It comes down to a simple proposition: brand clarity.

Advertisers seem to have lost the ability to find the “one thing” we’ want to know — even love to know — about what their product or service offers and why we should even care.

And as advertising professionals, we’re sick and tired of it.


Brand clarity. Where it all begins.

July 15, 2012 / Branding

Brand clarity is about more than a company’s advertising and marketing.

It’s about who a company is. What they believe and what they stand for (and won’t stand for).

It’s about how a company communicates those attributes — and commitments —to every stakeholder group they serve: consumers, employees, stockholders, board members, vendors, and the press.

Because when a company’s brand is clear and authentic to everyone, it resonates energy and staying power.

Clarity is a compass that guides a company.

Without it, they are lost, as so many companies are today, drowning amid the business banalities of selling a product with no meaningful point of view — or relevant value to sell.

We don’t believe any ad agency can find a company’s soul.

But we do believe passionately that our agency can prod a company — directly and indirectly — to reflect on who they are and what they want to be.

If it’s a new company, this involves self-evaluation.

If it’s an existing company, a business that has lost their way, it’s a reevaluation — a rebirth of sorts.

Either way, it’s cathartic.

And exhilirating.

And essential.


Whatever happened to clarity?

July 1, 2012 / Branding

We live in a confusing age.

Is deficit spending good or bad for the economy? Is organic produce — or a hybrid car — really worth the price?

There are so many conflicting opinions, so much confusion, so little clarity.

Consumers are confused, too, about which products to buy — and sometimes even where and when to buy them.

Nook or Kindle?

iPhone or Android?

Bloomingdales or Saks?

Paper or plastic?

Buy now or pay later?

Do your customers, and yourself, a favor.

Be clear about you stand for as a company— and what you offer that’s better than your competition.

Then continue to “hammer” home your reason-for-being in all your brand communications.

Don’t muddy the waters with lots of sub claims.

Never deviate from your value proposition.

Know what you stand for, and let your customers know it, too.

FedEx is all about getting it there as quickly as possible.

Target is all about cheap chic.

What are you about?


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