Recently I started working for a client who has found an ingenious way for businesses to raise money.
Since the banks have abdicated their responsibilities in that area to focus on paying their top people obscene amounts of money - much of it supplied by you and me - they will do well.
I always keep an eye open for anything to do with anyone I hope to help, so I made note of an email the other day from someone in the same business as my new client.
The subject line read What do you have in common with Richard Branson or Anita Roddick?
The copy explained that to build a business you need finance and they can help.
My niece Nicola ran the most successful Body Shop in the U.S. outside New York and told me a little about the late Mrs. Roddick, who seemed a complete pain. (But so am I sometimes).
She had the attention span of a gnat - very quickly bored - and great contempt for marketing, no doubt because most practitioners talk such pretentious tosh. Come to think of it, I have a lot in common with her.
As it also happens I had some exchanges with Richard Branson years ago and one of my friends was in business with him in three different ventures.
He tells how he got involved with Branson in a wonderful talk he gave at EADIM two years ago. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBm9nqSwt7A. And if you then want to know how he has since set up another highly successful business called Naked Wines, you can hear him explain that, too as I interviewed him for an hour last year to find out.
To see both in full you need to try http://www.draytonbirdcommonsense.com/robme
Naked Wines is a brilliant example of three things: how to position a business; how to use social media; and how to use cause-related marketing. Three things that few marketers understand.
Going back to the start of this piece banks also waste astounding amounts of our money on very bad advertising.
A particularly absurd example from Barclays appeared not long ago in the Sunday Telegraph. It was a full page with a picture of a "distinguished" model opening - or maybe closing - a door, who could possibly care?
The headline read, "Backing business for over 300 years". This is advertising anaesthesia. If anyone working for me suggested that I would have them bloodily disembowelled in the centre of Piccadilly Circus. The headline would have been a cliche in 1900. The picture is utterly without point or merit
Besides being astoundingly bad, that shows how business idiots think advertising is just a platform for lying. Barclays (or their agency) think if they claim to help businesses people will fall for it, when we all know they only help themselves - and only lend you money when you don't need it.
What a confederacy of twats.
But the real questions that come to mind are these.
1. Does whoever commissions or approves advertising know nothing about copy? Have they never even studied what works and what doesn't for even a fleeting second?
2. Does whoever writes or supervises copy and layouts at their agency know nothing about copy and layout? Have they never even studied what works and what doesn't for even a fleeting second?
3. Since a bank is, or ought to be, interested in husbanding money and making it work hard, why don't they apply that principle to their advertising?
Of course one explanation is that some ignorant high-up at the bank thought up the ad when drunk, and told the agency that was what he wanted.
People who know nothing about advertising think anybody can do it - and as a result many do.