The advertising industry is, by and large, driven by a Big Scam. The scam sounds like this: Clients should pay handsomely for the “creative” output they receive from their advertising agencies, and they should be grateful to do so, because it takes a lot of time to change consumer behavior.
This is bullshit. The output is not what clients should be paying for.
Any agency’s output is overpriced; no matter how “creative” it may be, unless it creates near-term, bottom-line business outcomes that quickly justify the client’s investment.
Here’s an experiment for anyone paying serious dollars to a US advertising agency.
1) Print out this blog and take it to your next meeting with your agency; circle the previous paragraph.
2) Ask your agency representative to read that sentence out loud.
3) Ask whether he or she agrees.
4) Take cover, because unless you are working with Zimmerman, the odds are that you are about to be overwhelmed by a tidal wave of bullshit.
A whole lot of people in the advertising industry have come up with a whole lot of interesting ways to distract people from a fundamental business reality: Paying customers deserve results they can measure, now. The distractions are sometimes even more creative than the advertising. At the end of the day, though, the disconnect between agency and client is still going to be there. Most agencies are just not as impatient for results as their clients are.
Any distraction designed to make clients feel foolish for expecting near-term business results is, in my view, part of the Big Scam. You can change consumer behavior in a hurry, and you can deliver bottom-line results in a hurry. Most advertising agencies just aren’t very good at doing those things.
Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about. Before we started working with Carfax, the company’s advertising message was about the car – illustrating how the Carfax report could protect you from buying a bad vehicle. The classic ad-agency approach here — the one our competitors no doubt wanted to take — would have been to continue down this path as a means of building brand awareness or to increase demand for Carfax over the course of one or two years.
Instead of building a campagn around those goals, we focused on changing consumer behavior — now, today, not two years from now. We did that by means of the now-classic tag line “Show Me the Carfax!,” which you can see in this spot.
Consumers got it, and demand took off. Quick. Before the Zimmerman campaign ran, Carfax wanted to grow consumer awareness faster. In the first 90 days after the Zimmerman campaign launched we increased awareness 50%.
With the “Show Me The Carfax” campaign, we connected with the consumers and taught them how to ask for the product. That not only improved awareness and attitude, it changed consumer behavior!
Put the Big Scam out of business for good. Spread the word: Clients should expect to see bottom-line results from their ad agencies, and they should expect to see them within 90 days.