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Monday, 19 July 2010

You don't have to hunt, Andrew, but you could try a bit of commonsense

"I have said this many times before, but nobody listened, so I shall say it again," was the start of a speech by Jean Cocteau.

Honouring his name, I have quoted him a few times.

Anyhow I was reminded of him when I saw one of those fatuous headlines beloved of the marketing press in Australian AdNews.

"Suzuki in hunt for digital agency" it read. How bloody stupid. You only have to mention you're looking for an agency and every smooth-talking tosser within a thousand miles will be on the phone.

What they mean is they want the right digital agency, which they will waste a lot of time choosing, ending with the right decision - if they do - by accident.

The Adnews story explains why.

"Suzuki is gearing up to review its digital ad account and is in the process of drawing up a long list of agencies.

Suzuki Australia national marketing manager, Andrew Moore, told AdNews he planned to brief eight to ten agencies and then shortlist three or four."

O. K., turning away reluctantly from the temptation to comment on the phrase "gearing up" let me tell you about these costly, time-wasting beauty parades.

They have a long list of possibles all of whom invest time and money in fancy presentations. Then, based on who they like the look of, they have a short list, who invest even more money and time on even fancier presentations.

Then they choose the winner. Maybe because they like them - the cliche is "personal chemistry". Maybe because (this happened to me) someone bribed them. Maybe because they liked the creative idea. Maybe because they were drunk. Maybe because they were tired. Maybe because it was a nice day. Maybe because the presenter had big tits. Maybe because someone played golf with someone else (true of one client I know) . Maybe because they had a silly check-list. Who cares why?

But hardly ever do these numbskulls pay attention to the words of the greatest advertising man ever.

"There is only one answer to every advertising problem. Conduct a test."**

So said Claude Hopkins.

But ninety nine times out of a hundred these people haven't even heard of Claude Hopkins. And it's not their money anyhow.

God save us from bloody amateurs.

** You don't know how to set up a test? Tear your goo-goo eyes away from those big tits. Ignore the spotlit glory of their offices. Forget about who bought you the biggest lunch, had the fanciest charts or used the most incomprehensible jargon about social networks.

After talking to their existing clients without telling them, take three agencies who got good reviews from their clients and have proved they get measurably better results. Then make them run head to head tests to see who gets you the most test drives. (You are more interested in selling cars than
strategic bullshit, right?)

That should take about a month, save a lot of wasted time and make you a lot of money.

But will you do it? I somehow doubt it. Even amidst the greatest recession in 80 years, sanity has yet to prevail over woolly thinking.

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