Friday, September 02, 2005

When advertising lays an egg

When advertising is poorly done, it's bad news for the editorial department.
Cheap, stupid ads don't serve the advertisers' needs. And that can lead advertisers, publishers and salesmen to put pressure on editors to do something inappropriate to help. I've been watching this scenario play out for decades now. When an editor tells me that he's being pushed to help an advertiser by writing a puff piece, etc., I ask to see the ads that the company runs. Inevitably, I find that the company is using the dumbest, lamest, most amateurish ads you can imagine. Sometimes the ads are done in-house by the advertiser; sometimes they are done in-house by the publisher. But whatever the source, the problem is the same -- the ads suck.
That's why I believe that big companies with skilled marketing departments and creative ads aren't what threaten editorial ethics. It's always the little guy -- the little, dumb guy -- who makes outrageous and unethical demands.
I've argued that the best defense against such things is the use of compelling advertising. And perhaps B2B publishers need to invest in hiring more talented people to create ads for their customers.
Or, perhaps B2B publishers should hire less talented and creative people to create ads. Maybe the problem is too many people trying too hard to create serious ads. Take a look at this remarkable commercial. (Thanks to Adrian Holovaty for finding this thing in digital form.) Then ask yourself the following vital questions:
1) Does content have to be professional and well-done in order to be compelling and effective?
2) Is someone at my publication -- whether it be a salesman, support staff or the publisher -- helping advertisers to produce work that works?
3) If that thing is Eagle Man, why is it laying an egg?

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1 comment:

  1. I can't beleive he found that. I used to love that commercial when I lived near Chicago in N. Indiana. Everybody knew about it. So, there's your answer...


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