The better angels of advertising

The better angels of advertising

I’m often accused of not liking marketing and advertising, and while nothing could be further from the truth, I do have a particular dislike for bad marketing and lazy advertising.

Good marketing broadly and advertising more specifically connect with what I care about in a way that gets me to take an action (and yes even so-called awareness building is about driving action). Unfortunately too much produced does neither.

I suspect the reasons why this happens are legion – often accompanied by cries from one side of “if only the clients would let us do what we do it would be better” and from the other “if only X agency would listen to us it would be better”. As with most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Certainly if you engage an agency because of their expertise in an area then listening to what they have to say is probably not a bad idea. However, if you are engaged by a client to provide a service then setting aside your personal creative aspirations and really listening to what they need to achieve and what they care about is, I think, a prerequisite too often ignored.

When both groups come together the result can be an alchemy that both moves and sells you. That helps you see what the organisation cares about. That makes you want to be part of that.

SMEs can sometimes feel they are in a tough spot, with limited resources to expend but an outsize need to reach their prospective customers. New channels and approaches have opened up the landscape, but unfortunately all too often this has just transferred the preexisting problems into those new realms.

So what’s the point of this (semi) rant? It’s a call for SME clients out there to embrace what the people you hire can bring to the table – it will always be your company and you can always say no when what’s being proposed doesn’t reflect what you stand for and care about.

It’s a call for the profession of marketing (including advertising) to step up and acknowledge that much of what gets done is pretty pedestrian and that when you put aside your own creative preconceptions and embrace what the client knows about their company and customers, great things are possible.

And then there are the times when these things come together and magic results (I challenge you to watch the following and not be moved):

Now of course people reading this are unlikely to have the budget of a Guinness (hardly anyone does), but slick production values aside, it’s the story they tell that packs the punch.

I don’t care if you’re selling razor blades, phone services, cars, dry cleaning or outdoor apparel. It’s not the size of the budget that matters. Organisations, it’s the strength of your conviction in what you care about and how you make that visible. Agencies, it’s telling that story, making that case, selling that.

So engage the better angels of advertising – I know they’re out there.

(Just don’t call it brand…but that’s a blog for another time).

See you next week.

Michel is an independent brand analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at


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