Source: GIPHY (https://media.giphy.com/media/HoyhrME6MXm5a/source.gif)
I froze after reading something someone had written in an opinion piece.
According to the author, the most credible way to evaluate advertising is to use the award winners as the models.
This observation reminded me of Professor Marilyn Strathern's pithy restatement of Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure." (I was introduced to the law in Mr. Dave Trott's article, The Dog's Bollocks.)
If awards become the be-all and end-all of advertising, wouldn't such a state of affairs be like the tail wagging the dog?
Effectiveness—and the awards that spotlight it (e.g. the Effies)—should be the focus of our industry.
A subjective evaluation can only result in no-brain advertising (Rapp and Collins), plus make matters worse for the consumers, advertising industry, and marketers.
Advertising that does nothing for the prospect is quickly forgotten, having merely served to add to the clutter.
The human being your advertising is aimed at is the alter ego of the not-in-market individual. The two neither think alike nor share the same emotional profile.
They can't be appealed to and persuaded in the same way. And they most certainly do not judge advertising like the people who create & approve it.
Seen in this light, the importance of understanding what happens after the advertising steps out into the real world can't be emphasised enough.
Out here, advertising competes not only with other advertising but also a cultural Zeitgeist saturated with:
How will your advertising fare in this melee?
The pursuit of the bright shiny object—be it an award, a technology or something else—is not what advertising is about.
To paraphrase Ogilvy, the end product should be evaluated on the basis of its content, not its form.
Any attempt to sell advertising "creativity" as well as the brand paying for the advertising can only result in failure to sell neither.
And that can be a fatal mistake.
Image source: GIPHY (https://gph.is/1K3S5JV)
I hate those "public service" print ads that purport to encourage smokers to quit the habit.
The ones that simply state the obvious, but in a Goldbergian manner.
Inevitably, these arty ads feature artistic paeans to ugliness, with the exception of a morbid statistic or two.
By the way, it is a rare anti-smoking ad indeed that makes room for some sort of a call to action.
Why do such ads get created and approved in the first place?
Reason #1: The client or their business/employer pays the bills.
The people behind such ads risk nothing, except maybe their reputation for "creativity"—a misunderstood term that seduces even the most experienced of advertising practitioners to indulge in orgies of 'irrelevant creative brilliance' (Ogilvy).
Reason #2: Advertising illiteracy, the tyranny of technology, and plain indifference.
No wonder the gap continues to widen between the creators & approvers of much of advertising today and the individuals at the receiving end of the advertising clutter.
Smoking is a serious addiction, and comparable to or worse than the hold that some illicit drugs have.
The anti-smoking ad that genuinely cares about smokers must do something more than simply appeal to their sense of curiosity and aesthetic drive.
It must show them how they can quit the habit.
The ad can usher the smoker into the ad with the aid of, say, the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence.
Then, instead of visual platitudes, the ad can proffer some smoking cessation methods, such as:
Proof supporting the effectiveness of the methods recommended must also be provided.
The ad can conclude with a useful call to action.
A variation can lead with a well-known individual (e.g. celebrity, royalty, music/movie star) challenging the reader to join them in quitting the habit in X weeks.
Social media, phone messaging and e-mail can be used to reinforce the association, build a community, track progress, and ensure cessation success in as many cases as possible.
Such campaigns require a lot of groundwork.
But the resulting earned media could be well worth the effort.