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Friday, 7 October 2011

There's no hogwash like marketing hogwash ... and a possible alternative

I have always thought it was hard to beat the kind of twaddle marketing people come out with, and that the absolute nadir is reached by agency people.

Here, for instance, is a quote from a presentation made by one of the leading agencies on Bristol (don't laugh too hard - this is a subsidiary of one of the world's top ten agencies).

Before you read it I would like you to imagine the client's situation. You may even feel that way yourself. They - like any other business - need income. There is a dire recession. Their kind of enterprise is under very heavy pressure; quite a few similar organisations are shutting up shop. They need results - and fast!

And they get this:

“I think we would be able to generate some very useful thinking for you on 'future' proofing the business more and in helping you engage further with key consumer groups and in the provision of content + product which could be commercialised/monetised and have a long tail income stream generated from some sustainable initiatives”.

What in the holy name of bollocks is that? And how about single quotation marks round the word future? Normally when you do that it signifies you don't really mean what you're saying. Then again, if you aren't really saying anything useful, who cares?

Hogwash is not dished out only by agencies, though, nor only in Bristol. This morning my Aussie mate Malcolm Auld drew my attention to a piece about the banks over there.

The big four banks have spent 19% more on media advertising in the past 12 months but it has done little for customer satisfaction.

And why, pray, should it? People are satisfied by what you do, not what you say. And since most bank advertising is just lies, they'd probably have done better keeping quiet, giving the money to their customers or improving service.

The one that increased spending most - Commonwealth Bank (30% up) - got the least benefit. By one measure "satisfaction" was up 0.6% or down 0.1% - insignificant statistically. People were either as pissed off as before, or a bit more so or a bit less so. One problem may have been that the more they lied, the more they pissed people off. Another may be that the bank had no idea what advertising is for.

Andy Lark, Chief Commonwealth Marketing Muppet, said they did not expect any "correlation between advertising and satisfaction, which was driven by actual banking experience". So why did he advertise?

"The job of advertising is to help people fall in love with our brands," he said.

Uh? The idea of falling in love with a bank is bizarre. But the idea of falling in love with a bank's brand is a phantasmagorical perversion. The agency in Bristol would have a place for him.

Anyhow here we have two problems.

The chocolate teapot at the Bristol agency can't write and doesn't know what people want advertising to do.

The other man doesn't know what advertising ought to do - and is a banker.

I can help here - indeed I did help 106 people - in Bristol as it happens in June

The easiest and cheapest way to get your advertising to do what it should do - sell more stuff without spending more money - is to run better copy, which is what I was explaining in Bristol. Better copy can make a huge difference.

Unfortunately lots of people couldn't or wouldn't come to Bristol. Some said, "Come to London". Others suggested Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin, Birmingham.

I have a better idea if you're interested, because it will be cheaper, and everyone can come as easily as coming to London. Also I'll throw in the odd freebie.

You may think it's crazy, but why not come to Spain?

What d'you say to that?

I'm dead serious.

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