Oh, for the love of the gullible 10-year olds of the world. OR… what an IDIOT I must have been? My uncle Teddy said with such conviction, “If you swallow your gum, you’ll fart a bubble.”
So, for the last 32 years, I’ve actually been swallowing my bubble gum in the hopes that I would prove my uncle his hypothesis true. You CAN fart a bubble!
Well, only part of that is true. I stopped chewing bubble gum quite a while ago – shortly after offending my soon-to-be ex girlfriend and her entire sorority pledge class at a football game in 1992. I actually stopped believing in the mysterious “fart bubble” about 12 minutes after that…
While it’s a humorous story and gets a HUGE giggle out of my own kids, it’s not at all the truth. So why mention it on an ad agency Web site? Because, just like the fart bubble, there are some MAJOR myths out there about advertising, and specifically ad agencies, that… well, let’s just say I’d like to “Clear the air…”
Ad Agency / Advertising Myth #1 – Advertising and marketing do the same thing.
Many people think that advertising is the same thing as marketing. Or that advertising is the same as selling. Aw, heck, they can be interchangeable for all we care…
Marketing encompasses all the activities it takes to move a product from inception to sales. This includes everything from market and demographic research to brand development, integration, design and packaging. Think of a discovery process using the “4 Ps of Marketing” – Product, Price, Promotion and Placement. Once this information has been tallied and compiled, THEN you start thinking about advertising.
Advertising, what I’d consider the more “cerebral” component of the team is the way we “Ad Folks” educate people about a product or service. Advertising can be used to communicate what a product is, how it fills a specific need or enhances someone’s life. Advertising covers how much something costs and where the buyer can get it. And from a branding standpoint, advertising can differentiate a product or develop an image for a specific consumer.
In most cases, it’s when these two are working together that sales happen. Good marketing can build a roadmap to get the product to the consumers, but without advertising stirring up traffic, interest and positioning the product in relation to its competition, not a single widget will be sold.
Hey, ya know what? Uncle Teddy had a great road-kill-skunk carcass-to-jerky machine built in his garage, but couldn’t sell the darn thing. I wonder why?
Speaking of skunk jerky…
Ad Agency / Advertising Myth #2 – Advertising sells you things you don’t want.
If this myth were true, then some ad executive somewhere (and my uncle Teddy) would be sitting pretty on a beach next to his or her own little airport in the Bahamas (or in a triple-wide with a cleaning lady named Trixie… pick yer’ poison). If a secret to advertising success exists, why do 80 percent of new products fail? And, why do seemingly well-established products drop from sight? Can you say, “Max Factor,” or “Circuit City,” or “Pontiac?” (And that was just in 2009!)
People have needs for products and services, but they have choices on how those needs are filled. Their decision to buy a product or service will be based upon their belief that what you offer satisfies their need. It will also be based upon their readiness to buy.
Ad Agency / Advertising Myth #3 – Ad agencies are full of a bunch of narcissists and crooks.
When I was interviewed for my first “Ad Agency” job, I distinctly remember saying, “I just want to do good work for good people.” (Jiminy Cricket has nothing on me…). Naive? Sure, but at 22 (and just off the search for the elusive fart bubble) I took relationships pretty seriously. I knew I had the skills to add value to any creative department, but if it wasn’t for “good people,” as I put it, then what would be the point? I might as well just jump right to the “scotch-guzzling, Camel non-filter smoking male chauvinist pig” stage. Thank God I found “Good people…”
Here’s where I bite my tongue. Yes, I’ve seen some pretty frightening things done and said in the name of “Advertising.” But trust me when I say, “There isn’t an industry-wide plot out there to bilk the public out of their valuable pennies.” It’s just not true. Of the handful of agencies I’ve worked for, the value clients receive is directly equal to the quality of craftsmanship and diligence the agency puts into their work. The clients will see results when the heart of the agency is truthful and honest. And consumers will be equally rewarded when it’s time to purchase.
With that, I’ll offer one last uncle Teddy-ism…
(Said through a cloud of smoke and on the breath of Jack Daniels himself…)
“If I spit on yer’ head and tell you it’s raining, would you believe me?” Of course we would uncle Teddy. You’re a very wise man.
Uncle Teddy or not, did I address some of your questions about advertising and ad agencies? What are some other aspects to our industry that may concern you? Please leave a comment and let us know. (I promise not to bring uncle Teddy to the next meeting.)
Andrew B. Clark