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    27 Replies Latest reply on Sep 22, 2009 6:11 PM by Iwrite

    Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new

    sirvonron Newbie
      This latest message is true of course, and it confirms what we are told to tell clients. That advertising works...it's just that we don't fully understand the marketplace. While that is true in much the same way that a gambler will say that he can get rich if he has the right luck. Or the salesman can make a million dollars a day at a lemonade stand if he sells enough lemonade. Or that robbing banks can be a successful venture if one is smart enough to figure out the market conditions enough that he doesn't get caught. Or the alcoholic can enjoy a few more if he can figure out a way to control himself. Or one can play Russian Roulette forever if he is careful enough or lucky enough. All that is technically true. It is the same as saying that playing with hand grenades is safe as long as you take enough precautions and do it wisely. Or that playing the state lottery is profitable if you understand the marketplace, calculate the odds, buy enough tickets and become lucky enough. Or you can drive on city streets at 150 mph if you are careful enough. Let's just say for the sake of argument that almost every thing you do in business is advertising, from the people you hire, your dress codes, the floormats, the parking lot, your fancy address or perhaps lack thereof if you are playing on the low overhead theme, your building, your signs, your custom phone number, your networking philosophies and techniques, your relationship with your vendors and a million more examples. Eventually that gets into things and decisions that may cost you more than you will get back. That's where you should use extreme caution. There are plenty of people along the way that are charged with possessing knowledge on the subject. If you own a business you are inundated with salespeople and marketing experts not just from local media outlets, but from Chambers of Commerce, trade groups, communications specialists, marketing people representing clubs and vendors, local venues, sports and team interests, community and social leaders wanting a special deal (perhaps an up and coming coach or olympic participant wanting sponsorship or a free car or a clothing tradeout, whatever), and the list is endless. Be very careful. Advertising doesn't work (in most cases) and I see it every hour of every day. The advertising field is littered with people that are in general the lowest educated and lowest paid of their graduating class. That's why even the big boys like a major home builders retail chain that today found out their adverrtising was running on a major cable channel at the wrong and unspecified time. They only found that out because they were told by an outside accounting and special interest group that was protesting their commercials on a program they found offensive. Most times when one is told that advertising works, they don't furnish data supported proof that it does. They only say that it can. That's true. But as one that sold advertising for decades and one that has bought it, I have the proof from myself and I have the proof from those that bought it.
      At least the author admits he doesn't have all the answers and he certainly doesn't offer any.

      Advertising is all too often offensive, expensive, and takes advantage of the vulnerable members of our society.

       

      Advertising in America is more intrusive than in any other industrialized country. Yet, in spite of the fact that most Americans are exposed to an estimated 1,000 advertising messages every day, the majority of us are hardly influenced, at least not in the sense that it induces us to buy anything.

       

      Advertising as a means to sell a product or service is simply not effective. People know that advertising is propaganda and don't trust it, nor do they remember it. According to market research studies, only 9 percent of television viewers can name the brand or even the product category they saw advertised a moment before.

       

      If we as consumers have personal experience and a network of friends and relatives whom we can trust to Macy's ad found in the San Francisco Chronicle recommend products and services, this is most likely to influence us. When survey research studies of the final sales influence are conducted, rarely is advertising credited by the survey respondents as a reason for choosing a product or service.

       

      We seem politically and morally blind to the fact that so many ads are dishonest. The victims of this self-serving industry are children, the economically poor, tourists, the elderly, and the educationally disadvantaged. Preschool children, for instance, have not yet learned to be defensive and wary of commercials as have their older siblings and cannot distinguish between television programming and advertisements.

       

      This is not to imply that the majority of advertising agencies or their employees are evil and calculating, attempting to make our lives miserable for a profit. Ad agencies exist to serve their clients and are extremely vulnerable to their every whim. There is little loyalty in this industry. And we, the buying public, are equally guilty, as to a large extent we use advertisers to support their media. Regardless of how tasteless an ad or how corrupt the business supporting that ad might be, by our silence we give them the power over our media.

       

      It is not a big secret any more among the advertisers that traditional advertising ROI has rapidly dropped. In fact it continues to surprise us that there is still so much advertising budget for television despite the low return. Sometimes you actually wonder why some companies continue to waste their dollars on what everyone knows does not work effectively. (Related article: Traditional advertising in danger) While iProceed.com has been concerned about advertising for a while, their hypothesis was validated when James D. Speros, the Chairman of the Association of National Advertisers (and the Chief Marketing Officer at Ernst & Young) admits to it. He writes in Fortune, "...advertising is no longer the be all and end all of moving product...Where we're all missing the boat is the lack of focus on creating big ideas that resonate with consumers. Instead of paying agencies by labor-based fees and commission, we should pay by the value of the marketing ideas they create."

      Ouch! It's probably not music to the ears of many advertisers and the agencies that they work with.

      There are two good things about Speros' admission:
      1. The folks in the advertising world are finally admitting that there is a fundamental problem.
      2. Things have to change everywhere: advertisers, advertising agencies, and the media.

      The best companies in the world with the most money to spend are making mistakes with advertising. The best agencies and the best people gravitate toward those companies with the most money to spend. They can't get it right. They have never got it right. It is becoming harder and harder to get it right and it takes the kind of people that aren't being attracted to advertising. Just today I saw on CNBC that the ad companies and the media want government money just to stay in business. A spokesman for the ad industry was told when he was hired that there was probably no way he could make enough money in his field (which involved integrating advertising with the internet) to keep his job. Of course when you have those expectations, you will fail anyway. Also today came an announcement that advertisers were dropping from the internet sites.

      In my town just today I stopped a three businesses that had advertising backfire from them. My friend stopped at one. Very briefly, the national coffee shop chain advertised tea with a coupon at 99c. The clerk didn't know it at first, but that is the normal price. I tore the coupons up and left with bottled tea I had in the car. The saleslady though appeared more upset than me over the advertising. Did you note that she had never seen this coupon before? I went to the cleaners to pick up and deliver clothes. The sign said 99c for laundered shirts. The clerk said the sale hadn't started yet and she didn't know when it would start. You tell me what that does for business and morale?
      I stopped to see a friend at a car dealership who is mad because his dealer advertises that the government has extended the cash for clunkers program when in fact his job is to either tell the customers it is a sham, since it was over several days ago, or to cover the amount in other ways so that the customer won't know. They also say the cash for clunkers program is good on used cars, which is one of many lies inherent in the advertising. My other friend got back from an upscale clothing store today afte being told by the manager that the national ciruclar distributed through the mail is wrong and that the merchandise she wanted either never comes there or it comes in several weeks.

       

      I see examples every day of advertising with no creativity, no common sense and no connection to truth or the real world. As long as there is advertising it will always be hit and miss, because it always has been. In college advertising courses you are taught that half of all advertising doesn't work and you'll never figure out which half doesn't work. The reality today is worse...and yet the importance of focus is more important than ever. While I'm not saying one shouldn't advertise....far from it. In fact it is impossible not to advertise...even if it is by mistake. There will always be word of mouth, there will always be many opportunities to advertise and most of it will be free. If you don't know how to get free advertising, believe me, it isn't hard. For example, broadcast stations are often hard up to come up with story ideas. Just as an example, if you are a car dealer, make sure you are the go-to person when they do stories. Help them come up with stories that will involve you. They could be economic angles, safety seat or orther safety related stories, trends in the automotive business such as convertible popularity or whatever, city potholes and what they do to cars and tires...well you get the idea. No matter what business you have I could think of a hundred stories for tv or press releases for the newspaper. You'll find these stories carry more weight than "advertising" because they don't appear to be advertising. That's the point. No one really likes advertising, and the industry is barely keeping up with dogcatchers in the respect department. I covered that to some extent already.

      There are examples that I find on an hourly basis just in my hometown and in my travels (I travel very extensively and very often) that advertising (as an industry) is letting businesses down. It seems to work better in other countries only because they have less government interference and independent broadcasting is still a much younger proposition in many places. Still....of course it can work...but it isn't a panacea and I'd say business owners must trust their own guts. Most of all, at least in advertising, BUYER BEWARE.
        • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
          studio 525 Adventurer
          Well, Sirvonron, you are certainly one to make blanket statements.
          I'm not a defender of all advertising. Much of it is ineffective. But the reason that good ad agencies make so much money is that some advertising is incredibly effective. Apple Computers is built on good advertising. The same can be said for many of the most successful companies.

          But with the advent and popularity of the Internet, there are more targeted, effective and less costly means of marketing today then there were five or ten years ago.

          I'm able to average 18% online conversions for my clients. Those are "soft conversions". That means that 18% of their visitors sign up for the their email newsletters giving them permission to continue marketing to them, sign up for a Seminar, or call or email them for a proposal or more information. An action is taken that leads to sales. The average closed sales from these actions has been between 4% and 6%. We track this very carefully. The results are part of our contract. This is much higher than the industry average. We recently increased closed sales for one client 688%. The client is featured on our website, so you can read all about it.

          We use several online techniques to accomplish this, increasing targeted traffic, building lists of qualified prospects, improving offers, etc. They're all listed and described in detail in our free e-book anyone can download from the site.

          I don't consider this advertising per se, although advertising is certainly part of it, especially in the traffic stage. It's more of a complete sales system. That's why the free e-book is titled The Complete Online Selling System.

          I think advertising is certainly changing. It's becoming much more Direct Response Advertising, which has always been more effective and also more verifiable. Now we can test the results of every aspect of our marketing. We know exactly how many people take action and what actions they take on our websites. We know exactly where the traffic comes from and whether it's increasing or decreasing. And we can easily track this to the rise or fall of closed sales. Every aspect can be tested and adjusted to get the results we want. We don't always hit the ball out of the park the first time out, but we know what to do to get there. And we do.

          Advertising used to be more of an inscrutable artform. Now, at least on the web, it's mostly a science. Although the art part is still necessary.

          I don't think blanket statements can ever be accurate. But you are correct that I have nothing new to offer. Successful marketing and advertising has been going on for years. The majority of the most successful companies in the world owe their success to it. The people running these companies are not complete idiots. They're able to read a balance sheet. They will fire non-performing agencies and do it all the time. There's very little loyalty in this business. It's all based on results. It used to be much harder to accurately judge the exact results of things like television campaigns. And I'm sure it still is. But marketing on the web is a whole different story. We have very exacting tools to measure results and we can do all this in real time.

          Peter

          Peter Cutler
          Principal / Creative Director
          Studio 525
          http://studio525.com

          We don't just create websites.
          We create results.
            • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
              Iwrite Pioneer
              I am going to try to keep my response short. There is too much proof that advertising work for any sane individual to dispute that.

              Advertising does not let business down, business lets business down. Recently, I felt like a burger, I had enjoyed the Burger King spots so I stopped by. I hate drive-thru so I go in. The store was filthy, the floor, the tables and the counters as employees stood around. I turned around and walked out. Is that the advertising fault? No, it got me in the door but it could not convince me to eat in a dirty place. Poorly designed websites that impede the shopping experience, poorly trained or motivated employees, inferior quality products, over priced items, poor locations, and many other reasons determine the success of a business. The best advertising should do is create interest and drive inquiries, after that it is up to the business to fulfill the promise. Where is this in the discussion?

              Advertising seems easy, so people think anyone can do it and get results but it isn't that easy. A television spot at 1 or 2 in the morning is a poor placement bound to fail. So is a website that is hard to navigate or find what you are looking for. Nothing works when done incorrectly.

              I know too many clients who can directly tie their growth and success to advertising for me to think advertising as an industry is going to die. the paid promotion of a product or service is always going to be advertising. Call it whatever you like it is still advertising. Coke and McDonald's recognize the importance of brand building, they reported this summer good numbers and tied them to their advertising effort but then what do they know?

              The sky isn't falling, advertising is not a waste for building a business. How is someone going to know that you are out there unless you tell them? That's advertising, whether on a tv or a computer - it is advertising. All the writing in the world can't change that or negate its impact.
                • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                  studio 525 Adventurer
                  Totally agree, Iwrite. It is true that due to the recession advertising budgets have been slashed. This happens every recession. Why should this one be different. The sensible thing is to continue advertising or even increase it (but look for lower cost solutions). That way the smart business will increase market share easily while their competitors hunker down. But businesses are not always as smart as they should be.
                  You have three choices in a bad economy. I. Reduce costs. 2. Increase sales. 3. Do both. These are also your three choices in a good economy.
                  Smart marketing can help you accomplish the third choice. And advertising is always part of that strategy.

                  What would happen if we stopped advertising entirely? Do you think most companies would survive? I don't see how.

                  Peter

                  Peter Cutler
                  Principal / Creative Director
                  Studio 525
                  http://studio525.com
              • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                sirvonron Newbie

                Blanket statements (mine or yours) or any other statement regarding advertising may not always be true, but the quotes by the former head of the Association of National Advertisers stand as an indictment for an industry he represents. It seems that the tandem and repeated replies of Iwrite and studio 525 on subjects in which they may not be totally unbiased is worth mentioning. I'm not selling anything. Are either of you?

                I observe and measure the results of companies that advertise and have observed that those spending the most usually lose focus on the rest of the business. One of you mentioned Burger King and that is a good example of a company as you indicate may have suffered due to the advertising. After all, any company only has so much focus, budget and attention to give, and when the priority is advertising it is like an individual that concentrates on taking vitamins, because then he starts to think he doesn't have to eat right. Likewise a company can get distracted when it starts to believe that advertising can make up for other shortcomings. It is easy to observe on a daily (even an hourly) basis how companies that spend the most and hire the best in advertising suffer humiliating sales results and a loss of image. Let's define advertising.

                One of the nation's foremost experts on advertising (Robert Sandelman, who died just last week) said "advertising is a selling message in a medium the client rents," and he said "Sales promotion is a selling message in a medium the clients owns" which traditional meant packaging, word of mouth, intelligent and wise ways to get free advertising, and many aspects of marketing and promiton that today may be considered in a blanket statement as being advertising, but for our conversation let's just say that it is a way to get around advertising. Now I could expound on things like product placement in stores and many other things, but for the purpose of my argument I say that there are other ways to get the consumers' attention other than advertising. At the very least I beleive that companies
                  • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                    sirvonron Newbie
                    Oh, one of you mentioned Apple computers. The success (and many failures) of the company over the past few decades cannot be attributed to advertising. It is true that they have spent a lot of time in court over advertising problems, and certainly it has been proven that Superbowl advertising in which they have participated is vastly ineffective. I have scientific data that proves it and I've explained that on a related site. Let's recognize that there are many reasons companies have been successful over the years and some of them do it in spite of advertising (often misdirected) and the lack thereof. Most importantly, it is a new day. As just as everyone knows, advertising is completely and vastly different (especially regarding delivery and fragmentation and lack of creativity as per the recent head of the industry on the consumer side) and that has been documented by many different people on this site, so what may or may not have happened in the past has no bearing on what may or may not work today. While I'm sure General Motors and others would say that Nascar has helped them in the past (for the record, I disagree and a few years ago I read stats by Chrysler to prove it, even though they went ahead and got involved just a few years ago...and I'm sure the results were not what they expected) they would be quick to point out today that their involvement needs to be diminished or eliminated. I can think of many reasons that Apple would be successful whether they bought advertising or not, and some companies are like that wobbly huge bubble that moves on its' own. Even when the Jobs left the company for a brief time, it seems it did even better than when he was there. (I do think the technology, the associations, the logo and the free press involving outrageous lifestyles did help.) Does that mean it may have done better during a time when the company was distracted and was buying less advertising? Could be. When I see hundreds of companies buying less advertising as part of the new plan for the new economy, I am encouraged. No wonder the top economists have a rosier outlook this month. Any new media delivery system does well initially, but computers are no longer new. And the audience is further fractured (as Obama said last week.) When something isn't effective all the time, just as a worker that may come in once or twice a week, it usually isn't effective or cost efficient overall. I know that's a blanket statement. But I'm thinking most employers wouldn't want an employee that wasn't effective most every day of the week. Even an occasional misprint, misrepresentation, misunderstanding, mistake or misleading mantra in the advertising world may be too ineffective, inefficient, insane and inactive for today's world.
                  • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                    sirvonron Newbie

                    Blanket statements (mine or yours) or any other statement regarding advertising may not always be true, but the blanket quotes by the former head of the Association of National Advertisers stand as an indictment for an industry he represents. Isn't advertising itself mostly blanket statements? It seems that the tandem and repeated replies of Iwrite and studio 525 on subjects in which they may not be totally unbiased is worth mentioning. I'm not selling anything. Are either of you? Even the appearance of being biased may not be appropriate here.

                    I observe and measure the results of companies that advertise and have observed that those spending the most usually lose focus on the rest of the business. One of you mentioned Burger King and that is a good example of a company as you indicate may have suffered due to the advertising. After all, any company only has so much focus, budget and attention to give, and when the priority is advertising it is like an individual that concentrates on taking vitamins, because then he starts to think he doesn't have to eat right. Likewise a company can get distracted when it starts to believe that advertising can make up for other shortcomings. It is easy to observe on a daily (even an hourly) basis how companies that spend the most and hire the best in advertising suffer humiliating sales results and a loss of image. Let's define advertising.

                    One of the nation's foremost experts on advertising (Robert Sandelman, who died just last week) said "Aadvertising is a selling message in a medium the client rents," (even the mediums are largely enemic) and he said "Sales promotion is a selling message in a medium the clients owns" which traditional meant packaging, word of mouth, intelligent and wise ways to get free advertising, and many aspects of marketing and promiton that today may be considered in a blanket statement as being advertising, but for our conversation let's just say that it is a way to get around advertising. Now I could expound on things like product placement in stores and many other things, but for the purpose of my argument I say that there are other ways to get the consumers' attention other than advertising. At the very least I beleive that companies who spend less on advertising have a better chance of success than companies spending more. Just look at the companies spending the most on advertising at any given moment and you'll see they are having problems. I could name a hundred companies and tell you their annual budgets, but observe for yourself. Even though the agencies will have you believe advertising is needed more in a bad economy than in a good one, most companies at least have enough sense to know that isn't true. Not many of the "blanket statements" by the advertising industry are true. When companies spend a record amount on advertising, quality of product and the bottom line decrease. Look at the results, comparing dollars spent and company revenues and quality of product. I hate to kick companies when they are down, but I could give you hundreds of examples both today and over the last year (some of them have gone out of business or have merged with other companies that have spent less on advertising). All you have to do is look at total spent and compare that with profits, revenues and quality of product or service that routinely drops when the focus and lack of creativity that I call throwing money into advertising.

                    So getting the message to the consumer about your product doesn't have to include the problems that go along with advertising, which including have sale prices that lower profits (that's right, advertising routinely involves lowering prices), switch and bait (when the shipment doesn't correspond with the advertising deadlines), the lower morale among employees when they get tired of explaining the misrepresentations or fine print of advertising) and so on and so on.

                    At the risk of making another blanket statement, advertising often cheapens a product. Most ads are downscale. Look at the next ads you see and tell me if you think they are both effective and represent the best companies. The companies seem to be discount stores, fast food or downscale restaurants, and cheap cars. I think advertising often lowers image (just as Doctors and lawyers say that advertising cheapens their profession), I think it cheapens images across the board. It lets me know a company has run out of ideas and that they have a shortage of talent, quality and creativity, so they just advertise. So predictable.

                    I really feel sorry for companies that ruin themselves by buying too much advertising, so I'm slightly reluctant to give examples. You know it is easy to buy the best minds in advertising, but they may not be that creative. The best and most educated individuals would not choose a career in advertising since not only is there a slump that I predict will only increase in a good economy, but advertising has always been a lower paying field than engineering, law and all the other fields available to the best of the graduating class and the most talented individuals in the work force.

                    Let's do what it takes to become successful, whether adjusting our ad budgets or finding ways to accomplish the same thing with lower costs. Let's not play on the false assumption that advertising is a glamorous undertaking or let's not blindly promote it as a crutch. If it worked, then all companies would be successful. How many years of advice and advertising from the top agencies in the world, not to mention ungodly amounts of money did many of the companies in trouble today waste on it?

                     

                    I can't resist this, but most advertising is ineffective and the delivery systems are fragmented and flawed. And many of the people involved in it are those that can't do much else. There is a better way. Whether a person wants a vest pocket job, a guy that wants a skinny heiress or a company that wants more profit, advertising may be trying to hard and too ineffectively to work. If it is simply buying more and better advertising to make a company profitable, then all companies should be profitable. Just buy more ads. Buy them all. Don't you think that if the top minds in government and on Wall Street thought that advertising worked, they'd recommend spending the stimulus on it? Why do you think they haven't recommended or even suggested that?
                      • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                        studio 525 Adventurer
                        To prove your point, why don't we just imagine how companies like Apple, McDonalds, Burger King, Coke, Pepsi, Walmart and thousands of similar companies would do if they canceled all their advertising, even for a single month.

                        Do you imagine that their market share would increase or even stay the same? Of course not. Otherwise they'd save the money and cancel.

                        Advertising may not be one of the things we enjoy the most about our western culture. It can be terribly intrusive. But, as far as business goes, it's a necessary fact of life. So it makes sense to make it the best it can be.

                        And there are many types of advertising. For instance, my posts on this forum are a from of advertising. I advertise my years of experience and expertise. As to whether I'm "selling something", I have a business, of course I'm selling something. I'm selling my experience, expertise and ability to generate sales results for my clients and future clients. If we have a business and we're not "selling something" we're in deep, deep trouble. Businesses that don't believe in selling are not businesses for very long.

                        Peter

                        Peter Cutler
                        Principal / Creative Director
                        Studio 525
                        http://studio525.com

                        We don't just create websites.
                        We create results.
                        • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                          studio 525 Adventurer
                          Sirvonron,
                          You seem to be mixing up advertising with television commercials.
                          TV spots are only one aspect of an advertising campaign. Campaigns generally include all forms of media, both offline and online, including Social Media like Twitter and Facebook, and instore displays. Many of these are ways you consider "getting around advertising". When, in fact, they are all part of the advertising mix. Advertising campaigns are not created in a vacuum.
                          If there is one aspect of the campaign you think is ineffective, why not just say take out the TV spots or radio spots or print ads but leave the other parts of the campaign, like Press Releases or other techniques that are less costly. Each of the different media, both offline and online, work together and reinforce each other. This is how a campaign is put together.

                          I have my own company now and haven't worked for an ad agency in almost 15 years in a staff position. But I can tell you that the salaries at advertising agencies are some of the highest of professional salaries, lower than doctors, but higher than engineers, on par with lawyers, at least for all the senior positions. And I'd say that the majority of people I worked with all had Ivy League degrees, mostly Harvard or Brown as the agencies were all in the Northeast. Getting a staff job in one of the top agencies is highly competitive. As far as Creative positions in the art and copywriting areas, there is no place that pays nearly as well. It's why so many artists, writers and film directors end up working for advertising agencies, if they can get the jobs.

                          I have noticed a definite lack in the quality of the Creative coming from many agencies over the past ten years or so. It was one of the reasons why I left. But this is not the fault of advertising. Nor is it the fault of the the current people working in advertising. It's primarily due to the lack of courage of clients to approve ground-breaking and startling work, which is the most effective advertising. This has always been a problem for the industry. But, since 9/11, I've noticed that clients seem to be far more fearful than they used to be. Good advertising is bold. It takes courage to make bold statements. There is much less courage in the executive branches of large companies than there used to be in the "good old days". But don't let that give you the impression that bold and exciting ideas aren't still being produced and presented to clients. I'm sure they are. But now they either get shot down or watered down until what emerges is what we see today. That's a backroom look at the industry.

                          It's very easy to form impressions of what we don't understand and believe them to be true. We all do it.

                          I have no financial reason to defend television advertising. I haven't written or directed a television commercial in almost 10 years. I work almost exclusively with web marketing. That doesn't mean I don't still use offline media as part of any good marketing campaign. But I do think there has been a misunderstanding of the advertising industry and its current place in the overall economy.

                          Peter

                          Peter Cutler
                          Principal / Creative Director
                          Studio 525
                          http://studio525.com
                            • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                              sirvonron Newbie
                              No. I'm not mixing advertising and television. Two wrongs don't make a right. It does show the lack of purpose and creativity by agencies and companies that they still spend so much money on it. Apple computers even does TV. You seem to be saying that TV isn't effective, but you (and your very much in agreement cohort) hold up Apple Computers as a company that is successful because of it. I look at all advertising and the things that caused TV to meltdown are happening overall in the ad industry. We all know that budgets are down. Total budgets. TV is just one way agencies are wrecking their clients. I hope you are better able to understand your clients than my communications.
                                • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                  Iwrite Pioneer
                                  Super Bowl spots have been bad for "certain" businesses. Snack food, soda and beer all have reported a marked increase during and immediately after the Super Bowl.

                                  Earlier Sirvonron, you listed three examples of how advertising lies or failed but I would beg to disagree that it was an agency's fault or even advertising. The examples you stated reflected unethical business practices, that has more to do with the client than the agency. Advertising is more a partnership, whether it is TV or interactive - messages put out are based on information provided by the client. If the client says advertise a special, then that's what the agency does. Now, as to whether or not the business is going to honor that is based on the client. Electronics and auto dealers are famous for pulling baits and switches, and even the law holds the clients responsible for it, not the agency. Why? Because it is something the clients decided to do independent of the agency. But what you detailed sounded like more people doing their own advertising and not involving an agency because they can "do it themselves and save money." It doesn't sound like they saved much of anything.

                                  Actually, Microsoft is proving our point, they are using advertising to address a negative image and they are making headway with their sales. The VPs of marketing for McDonald's, Coke, Walmart and P&G are on record addressing the advertising industry about the importance of advertising in all forms to help companies succeed. I will take their current comments over anyone else, they know what they are doing.

                                  FYI - product placement is advertising. Companies pay advertising agencies to place products. The only free advertising is word of mouth, but paying people to blog is advertising also.

                                  Sirvonron, you have hit on something important - the real problem is who is creating your advertising plan, are they really qualified, how will the success or failure be measured and what compensation is detailed in the agreement between the client and agency to insure that the agency produces results. If this had been worked out than you might have an entirely different view of advertising. I once had a bad dentist, I mean the experience was horrible, but I didn't stop seeing all dentists. I learned from the experience and starting asking more questions and letting them know what my expectations are. We talk before any work begins. Too many business owners don't put enough thought into their advertising - whose fault is that?
                                    • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                      DomainDiva Ranger
                                      The best Super Bowl commerical of all times was the Budweiser mini-fridge-battling-robot commerical. FOREVER and EVER.

                                      That being said....our little company has a brand and information about that brand in the form of brochures and printed materials that IWrite helped us put together. They have gotten a lot of attention within our niche market.

                                      Most advertsing, both print and on TV is junk because people do not have any 'good taste' and assume that the audience will like what they like. Not so...most of my ideas about advertising art and copy were tossed out. Good advertising is not about personal likes and dislikes of the creators.....it is about the audience and getting them to buy the products.

                                      I am sticking with IWrite.
                                        • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                          sirvonron Newbie
                                          I can understand why most of your ideas were tossed out. You can complain or you get get some new ideas.
                                            • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                              studio 525 Adventurer
                                              Maybe you are confusing Brand Advertising with Direct Reponse Advertising or Point of Purchase Advertising.
                                              All are necessary. All are advertising. And television advertising can be incredibly effective. Is it only a coincidence that market share and product sales rise after a successful new television campaign? That's too many coincidences to deny. It's much harder to see the direct factual numeric results than it is on the web with all the analytics tools. But what we heard from the clients and Marketing and Sales Departments showed us if we were on the right track or not. And if we weren't, they looked for another agency.

                                              It's easier to see the direct results with Direct Response. Long format television commercials, also called Infomercials, have long been the butt of jokes. But those things sell like crazy. I heard recently on a radio news program soon after pitchman Billy Mays died that 1 out of every 8 Americans has bought a product based entirely on an Infomercial. They track results very carefully. If an Informercial doesn't produce high sales volume the first week it's launched, they cancel it. So the Infomercials that continue to play for years are continuing to produce high sales volumes every single week.

                                              We may not like to see them personally. But there can be no doubt that they produce a whole lot of sales. And most of the products are only available through the Infomercials and their 800 number. They're not sold in stores. That's not Brand Advertising. It's Direct Reponse Advertising. But it's still advertising.

                                              Can you honestly say you don't think it's working or that it's a waste of money? If that were true, there would be no more Infomercials on television.

                                              When I was working at the agencies, I only did Brand Advertising. 60, 30 and 15 second commercials and print advertising in the major offline media. This did cost clients a lot of money. But since they were successful Fortune 500 companies they could afford it. They were looking to increase their market share against their major competitors. Successful campaigns did this for them. They tracked the results very carefully, even obsessively. Now that many large companies seem to have lost their nerve, as they almost always do during tough economic times, their campaigns are not as bold and exciting as they once were. And also not as effective. That's always been the way. But don't blame the advertising agencies for that. Tough times and lower sales makes corporate VPs and CEOs very nervous. When they're nervous, they become afraid to take chances. Taking chances is what bold, breakthrough advertising is all about.

                                              If you'll notice, whenever the economy turns down, the quality of advertising turns down. The reason why is corporate fear. Executives are afraid of losing their high salaried jobs. There aren't many alternatives out there for them. The easiest way to lose your job is make a costly mistake on an ad campaign in front of the whole world. So when the agency Creative Team presents a bold, interesting, breakthrough concept, they freak out and find a hundred reasons why it is too risky and will never work. Of course it's risky. Good advertising always is. So during downtimes, the advertising that ends up being produced is watered down by fear. From what I've seen that's still happening. And it's been way too long in my book. I'm glad I'm not on staff at an agency anymore.

                                              Working with smaller companies, it's a lot easier to get them to take chances. You have to be bold and take risks to capture people's attention. Large companies are still trapped in fear right now. They won't let their ad agencies do the work they're paying them for. If the economy ever comes back and begins growing again, that will change. But maybe not until then.

                                              Peter

                                              Peter Cutler
                                              Principal / Creative Director
                                              Studio 525
                                              http://studio525.com

                                              We don't just create websites.
                                              We create results.
                                                • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                                  sirvonron Newbie
                                                  No, I believe the overwhelming evidence is that companies lose when they advertise too much. I could give you examples all day long, but let's look at the car companies. The big three were the biggest advertisers of all time when you look at total expenditures from local dealers. They all had the best the industry could offer and they went through unsuccessful campaigns and kept fine tuning their efforts for many many decades. They lost big time. The mobile home industry was one of the largest local advertisers and a large national and regional advertising group as well. My observation has been that when times are good, companies get careless. As you say when times are bad they focus their efforts. In an earlier message I said I knew of a top supermarket executive who said he only advertised to have something to talk about in the meetings and that he didn't believe it actually brought customers to the store. The advertising industry is taught to push advertising in bad times because that's when it is needed. If the ad industry can't do that and if they are going to blame companies for not having enough guts and scientific knowledge to advertise, then isn't it up to the agencies to either convince them of it and to offer some scientific evidence that it works. If you are saying that politics gets in your way, then that is a copout and I believe the ad slump will actually deepen as the economy improves. Mercedes annual advertising budget for North America has been approximately a 100-million dollars for the past three years, more than ever...and surprise: quality dipped and sales slipped. The actual figures are available in many places for anyone interested. All the car companies (just as an example) have been promoting leasing for decades....but they have made no inroads. Leasing seems to be on the way out, at least as long as companies use advertising to promote. Look at companies like Nordstrom's. I'd rather shop there with the live piano music than to listen to crude advertisements or popups from the other stores. They advertise less than almost any clothing retailer. Their image is sterling and they are often one of the best performers on Wall Street. We discussed today the plight of Apple Computers. They were one of the poorest performers today in the stock market. We mentioned Burger King earlier when either you or studio 525 (are you the same person) mentioned you were not impressed during a visit. Do you not know that they have been distracted and ill-served by the major ad campaign promoting their new chicken dish?
                                                  When I was interested in how the campaign was working for them I stopped in (or drove by) dozens of stores just to check their business. First, no one was ordering the chicken among those I've seen in the stores and if they did it would only cannibalize hamburger sales. Of course....I know...You'll say something was wrong with this particular campaign. Well you've also said clients aren't stupid. I think a lot of thought went into the effort by both Burger King and their agents. They just happened to be wrong. As Obama said this afternoon, American businesses can't afford being wrong.
                                                  I believe when advertising doesn't work it is the biggest waste of all because customers go away mad (and saying they won't return) and because it desensitizes the rest of us to the cry wolf syndrome that is the advertising world. There is always an excuse and a cry for forgiveness by agencies, but I think most businesses are learning a hard lesson and perhaps the economy is playing a very major role in that learning curve.
                                                  It is high time to take the high road, and the advertising world with its gravitational pull to the other direction may be the biggest reason not to do it. When I was in both Dallas and Santa Fe during the last two weeks I learned by comparisons that the restaurants and events that didn't advertise did much better than those that did. My group of six was amazed that I could roll into town and by just going elsewhere from advertisements, coupons and even endorsements, that I could find the most memorable, fun, exciting and elegant places in town. And they were invariably better attended than the run of the mill places that advertised. Again I think it is like a doctor, dentist or lawyer that advertises. That is considered highly unethical and cheap by the better professionals. I think the same thing is starting to apply across the board.
                                                    • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                                      wordperfect Scout

                                                      Much as i enjoyed the banter betwen the 3 of you I don't really want to buy into the argument as I am not based in USA and so have little idea of the situation there.

                                                       

                                                      However a couple of outside observations, if you will allow.

                                                       

                                                      First, Mr Sirvonron or is that a title as in Sir Vonron! you stated

                                                       

                                                      "Advertising in America is more intrusive than in any other industrialized country".

                                                       

                                                      That is a fairly bold claim, do you have stats, figures, facts to support it?
                                                      I am not being mean, it's just that here advertising is very aggressive and "in your face," take a look at most Chinese websites and the Bl***dy popups and cursor following ads. TV ads here are, I think quite intrusive.

                                                       

                                                      Second, Messrs Cutler and Studio 525, it seems Mr S is attacking ad companies and agencies rather than advertising perse, maybe I am wrong in which case i would probably agree with him.

                                                       

                                                      I think, generally speaking, the ad industry has become too self focused and less client focused, in many cases, the industry seems to be driven by a desire to be bigger, better, more outrageous than the next ad agency, rather than promoting the clients products. Again, I stress, I am generalising, there are some very good, to the point ad campaigns.

                                                       

                                                      However I cannot accept the fact that advertising is bad or doesn't work, there is bad advertising and not everything works, but that is the fault of the advertiser, not advertising as a tool.

                                                       

                                                      Although, if you really want to get pedantic, you could say even bad advertising works when customers stop coming!
                                                        • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                                          sirvonron Newbie

                                                          I think there was only one question in the most recent threesome ramblings. Regarding intrusive advertising in America commpared to other countries I was paraphrasing (okay maybe quoting) a Post Graduate University Research Article with the Center for Lliteracy in the Media. I've spent much time visiting China and working with Chinese, Tawainese and Japanese on the Island of Saipan and with Formosa Plastics Group (the largest company in Taiwan) at their factory in Texas. Also I learned in each case what other cultures thought was the difference between their real or perceived penchant for producing higher quality at lower costs. In most cases when advertising was brought up, they bragged that they spent only fractions on the dollar of what American companies spend. At the time I realized they were right, at least regarding the advertising budgets foreign carmakers use compared to what American car companies spend. And even they have suffered. Many experts say that bad advertising killed the Q-45. Nothing is worse than bad advertising. It is to be avoided at all possible cost. It isn't worth the risk.

                                                          Actually I think the last few messages from you guys aren't harsh at all. We are being far more civil than the roundtable quad-anchors on the business channel I'm watching right now. At first I wanted to ask "Is that all you have?" but it seems most of our discussion is centered around semantics, quotes, hedging, couching and blanket statements to go along with specific ones. I like to discuss slightly more general statements in the interest of time and because specific ones may be irrelevant and because we are taugh to condense in this business. Too late for that. What worked yesterday may not work today. Every campaign, client, market, situation, implication, idea, application, practicality, sales connect or disconnect conditions, inventory, target audience and delivery system and combination thereof is different and there are no controlled environments as you would expect in a medical study. At question is always whether the effort worked better than other options. And was it more cost efficient and easy to manage. And whether the company image and professionalism was improved. Did the advertising help employee moral? Did it steal future customers from you? Did you have to sell the product for less than you would have without the advertising? The answers to these questions and many more must be answered before one can determine if the advertising worked.

                                                          Finally, as Obama tries to advertise and promote his health care plan there are many who say it will fail due to overexposure and too much advertising. He is on everything but the food network and it doesn't seem to be working. Time will tell if the billion dollar marketing will work to produce a plan on time, but it seems to be failing. (Remember we aren't talking about our own opinions on the plan...just whether or not the marketing will work). We could say the plan has already failed back in the summer. Will it fail again?
                                                          • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                                            sirvonron Newbie
                                                            Oh, by the way. Yes, advertising as a tool is not in question. We agree on that and every poor performer in the advertising business will be right when he says that, but an industry is only as good as the industry, as you seem to be saying. When advertising doesn't work and just once is sometimes enough to destroy or greatly harm a company, it is always the people that are to blame. Doesn't that do without saying? Of course if we are going to constantly identify the specific shortcoming with advertising, then it will always be SOMEBODY's fault. Just as guns are great if used properly, drugs are great if used properly, and everything is fine and risk-free as long as the planets are aligned. You can't do something just because it is good in theory, just as I wouldn't do an open heart transplant without determining if it would be good for me and my situation and finding the right person to do it. It is the same with advertising. Sometimes not advertising or buying less may be an option, just as there are times when non-surgery may be the best option.
                                                            • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                                              studio 525 Adventurer
                                                              Thank you, Wordperfect, for bringing some civility into this conversation.
                                                              Your name suits you.
                                                              Ranting in public may make a poster feel better, but it doesn't do much for public discourse or conversation.
                                                              It doesn't seem to benefit those reading the posts. At least in my experience.
                                                              Certainly we all have rights to our opinions, no matter what they are.
                                                              But rants have a way of tweaking our reptilian brains and promoting counter-rants as people feel they are being attacked or misrepresented. And the resulting digital dust-up doesn't really seem to benefit anyone. And it sucks up a lot valuable time. And who of us has enough of that?

                                                              That's my opinion for what it's worth.
                                                              I have nothing else to say on the subject. (Obviously a rare occurance for me.)

                                                              Although I must say having my name in the title of a Post certainly peaked my interest or at least my curiousity. Another example of advertising that works :).

                                                              Peter
                                                                • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                                                  sirvonron Newbie

                                                                  Peter,

                                                                   


                                                                  It took you over a month to see this poster (so the advertising didn't work) and it did have your name on it. Mr. Wordperfect objected a little only when our Diva friend became as he says, "harsh". Since the civility issue as seen by a third party didn't begin with me and it does seem to end with me, perhaps continuing with someone able to keep on subject is appropriate. Anyone not able to that should take a break, as per Diva and Peter.

                                                                  Sirvonron
                                                                  • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                                                    Iwrite Pioneer
                                                                    I am guilty also. My apologies for my tone.

                                                                    I love what I do. I know that I bring value to my clients, I don't charge for things that I could and should. I try to steer clients to the best solutions for their needs, and to read someone attacking what I do without having worked with me, touches a nerve.

                                                                    Peter, we need to talk off-line, not about this as much as about advertising.
                                                                      • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                                                        studio 525 Adventurer
                                                                        Hi Iwrite,
                                                                        I'd love to chat. I didn't see any contact info on your profile.
                                                                        So you can contact me directly via the contact info in my profile or on my website where you will see both email and phone numbers.
                                                                        Studio 525 is a very small boutique web marketing and design company right now. It's modeled on my former commercial film and media company. But I'm a Partner in another web development company that is in the early stages of growing to be a much larger company.
                                                                        The small size of Studio 525 allows me to create very customized marketing solutions for smaller clients. And that's been very rewarding, working one on one with the Owner/President/CEO, etc. But I also want to continue working with my former Fortune 500 clients. And for web marketing that usually takes a large company.
                                                                        So I am looking at working with other really good copywriters and designers. My son is the Lead Programmer at Studio 525 and he is the President of the other company. He has begun buildng a very impressive group of very high level programming talent. We're still looking for a few more programmers with specific skills and experience. But he handles that part of the business. I'm looking to broaden the copywriting and design talent beyond just me.
                                                                        I've enjoyed your posts and your thinking. We might be able to work together on this or something else.

                                                                        Looking forward to hearing from you,

                                                                        Peter

                                                                        Peter Cutler
                                                                        Principal / Creative Director
                                                                        Studio 525
                                                                        http://studio525.com

                                                                        We don't just create websites.
                                                                        We create results.
                                                              • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                                                DomainDiva Ranger
                                                                All you see is the 'ugly little info site' the beautiful app is not available to the general public.

                                                                I guess I am going to be the one also to tell you that when you quote sources, you need to state that in your posts.

                                                                NO sense in posting another one of your ugly replies since I will not be replying to you, but hey then you can have the last word publicly which should make you happy.
                                                            • Re: Mr. Cutler has some partial truths...but nothing new
                                                              sirvonron Newbie

                                                              No, first of all when I referred to product placement I was referring to ad chief guru Robert Sandelman's famous effort to increase sales over 1400% when he decided to place certain products in a different part of the supermarket. My statement is paraphrased from the Wall Streeet Journal in last friday's edition. The Journal (and certainly not I) was changing the definition of advertising, though that might be a good idea. I do believe new definitions may be in order if we want to think outside the box, and certainly the definition I quoted from Mr. Sandelman in an earlier post may indeed be outdated.

                                                              One need to keep in mind that advertising plans, advertising prowess, advertising measurements, advertising miscues (and boy are there a lot of those) are alll part of advertising. You can always find an excuse why this effort didn't work or the last campaign came up short. It's like a lazy employee excuses why he is late to work every day.

                                                              Also the fact that Microsoft's image needs improving is an issue either beyond or because of advertising. It isn't
                                                              because they didn't buy enough advertising. And it is questionable if advertising will help it. Often when a company or a person has a negative image,advertising only spotlights it. If it helped, then Governor Sanford needs to advertise. The same companies with a negative image last year and last decade are the ones with a negative image today. History does mean something. I'd rather a company concentrate their budget of the real issue, whether it is poor customer service or wasted marketing efforts, or whatever. Bankruptcy court is littered with companies that thought advertising would help their image. Many company employees say advertising hurts an image for many reasons, not the least of which is that it brings attention to it. We love to kick them when they are down. I think a company shouldn't apologize constantly and to be on the defensive all the time. Sometimes it is best to wipe the slate clean, fix the problems and move on, instead of bringing down employee morale and causing employees to grow tired of explaining the fine print, the miscues, the problems and shortcomings to themselves, friends and relatives.

                                                              We all know for example of Oprah's less than successful involvement with advertising efforts by companies like Pontiac that have gone out of business with lower image and sales starting immediately and profoundly after her involvement. Recently there have been many other image problems with the advertising efforts of KFC on her show and indeed the list is endless as per the many cover articles appearing in magazinesand blogs on the subject.

                                                              Super Bowl products are bad for any client if the same results can be achieved for less elsewhere. That is precisely what a recent reported by the Center for Literacy in the Media. I outlined one example in an earlier post. If something isn't cost-effective it isn't good for the client. This may be a blanket statement as well, but I believe agencies sometimes have a conflict of interest, and I also believe agencies can't turn around and blame the client for what may have gone wrong. In fact most companies also have ad specialists that help to make that determination. The bottom line is that when things go wrong or sales are down, the agency IS and SHOULD be held accountable and should not say that their best idea was rejected any more than a failed sales employee can blame the company rule book.

                                                              You are right that the real problem is who is creating the advertising plan. But isn't people always the problem. Advertising people aren't always creative for whatever reason you may like, but just because one's hands may be tied to your back by company management is no excuse. No more than a timid radio announcer can say that he wasn't allowed to grow and act like a shock jock and therefore his lack of success is someone else's fault. Part of success is figuring out a way to persuade others to see your ideas. If you can't do that and you can't keep up with the big boys, fly with the eagles and perhaps play golf at the best country clubs, then that is the problem of those that can't figure it out.

                                                              I think the most educated people choose not to go into advertising. Advertising and journalism offer the lowest entry salaries of any profession and the future is also the least promising in those fields. And as you seem to say, creativity is often squelched and that leads to a lack of swagger and confidence among those already afraid of their shadow. Advertisers need to work on their own image before they can be qualified to help anyone else's.