RE: It's an ad, ad, ad world

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Thu Jul 12 2001 - 11:16:31 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: It's an ad, ad, ad world
    Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001 11:16:31 +0100
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    This small of comments is very interesting.

    My point about the ubiquity of advertising exceeding its impact is
    reasonably easy to see once you think about it. Advertisers and marketing
    people are essentially convinced (and are good at convincing their
    clients/bosses) that there would be no business without them.

    Take Marks & Spencer (a major high street chain of department stores in the
    UK), which has been suffering significantly reduced profits over the last
    few years. It has undertaken a major rehaul of its clothing provision,
    including a high profile new advertising campaign that generated lots of
    good PR coverage (because it feature larger women in the ads rather than the
    stick-thin models of normal ladieswear advertising). The result? This
    week, overall profits are down over 2%, and IIRC the news said they were
    down 9% in profits from clothing.

    Besides the basic point about advertising is that at best they are preaching
    to the converted. Andrew mentioned Guiness ads- they've won awards for
    their innovation, generally being really interesting ads. But they aren't
    going to make people like me, who can't stand stout, drink it. And the
    basic premise of advertising, the selling point that they put to potential
    clients is- we'll get get people purchasing your product, full stop/period.

    What I find even more annoying is advertising for companies whose products
    you can't buy (e.g. BNFL), or ads that explictly aim to alter attitudes-
    currently after a year of utter incompetence on the British railyways, the
    companies have clubbed together to produce ads saying they've sorted all the
    problems out, as if anyone is going to believe that. My first thought was
    maybe they'd have got the trains running on time again a bit quicker if
    they'd saved the money from these pointless ads and used it to repar tracks.

    Again public health advertising campaigns are usually very unsuccessful, on
    their own, and that's not because the ads are rubbish. Some campaigns do
    appear effective, but only in relation to a range of other measures, that
    arguably could have worked without the ads, e.g. drink driving campaigns in
    the UK, usually conducted around Christmas, have seen some if the most
    harrowing and emotionally powerful ads ever seen in the UK. Drunk driving
    rates, I believe have fallen over the last decade or so, but as well as the
    ads, there have been increased penalties for drunk driving, plus police
    activities such as increased random testing.

    In corporate advertising, if the product is crap or no-one likes it, it
    doesn't matter how much money you spend on ads, they're not going to make
    any long term difference to whether or not the product fails. Yes,
    currently if you don't advertise at all, then maybe no-one will become aware
    of your product and it will fail that way, even if it's good. But even
    then, a product's utility (and cost) can ensure another route to
    profitability, word of mouth, which those bugger marketing people are now
    trying to claim they thought of in 'viral marketing'.

    I'm sure it's been done, but I bet it would be interesting to examine the
    early history of companies like Coke and Levi's to see what built their
    success early on- product quality and word of mouth, or aggressive
    advertising and marketing.

    A question for Andrew to finish (If people have got this far without giving
    up on me!): Do you prefer Guiness to other stouts like Beamish or Caffrey's?
    Most of my stout drinking friends prefer one or other of these to Guiness.
    They're not advertised nearly as heavily as Guiness though.


    > ----------
    > From: Chris Taylor
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2001 10:21 am
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: It's an ad, ad, ad world
    > I still think that this is all much clearer when we view the ads
    > themselves as products, sold to consumers of advertising (namely
    > marketing departments - businesses generally). Sometimes it's on
    > reputation, sometimes they may present statistics about penetration and
    > so on, but fundamentally the reason an ad appears is because a consumer
    > of ads bought it from a producer of them.
    > Robin presents an interesting case - the small businessman who keeps a
    > very close watch on his ads' effects; however I don't think large
    > compartmentalised businesses will have any one person with the
    > equivalent grasp of cashflow detail for the whole company, making them
    > much more prey to advert salespersons.
    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    > Chris Taylor (
    > »people»chris
    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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