April 13, 2010

How Come All The Great Advertising You Like Isn't Yours?


By Steve Lance and Jeff Woll

In almost every seminar or workshop we've done, one question keeps coming up: "Why do our supposedly smart, insightful promotion and marketing ideas somehow turn into mush by the time they're executed?" (If they're executed at all.)

If it's a marketing seminar, the question is "how come our agency isn't giving us the kind of work we saw in their pitch?"
If it's a creative workshop, the question is, "how come our best work isn't shown to the client—and is rarely approved?"

The answer we give is always the same – and the reason we wrote "The Little Blue Book of Advertising." The reason your advertising isn't working is that it's likely that your processes for creating and producing great advertising aren't working. To quote William Shakespeare (and since we wrote the book who better to quote?), "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves . . ."


In the 1990s, the world economy (and particularly the U.S. economy) experienced the greatest economic expansion in recorded history. New millionaires were being created almost as fast as new jobs were. New companies were launching—and spending tens of millions of dollars to promote themselves. One of our clients observed, "Everyone looks like a strong swimmer when the tide's coming in." And in the 1990s, everyone looked like a strong swimmer. But along came the dot-com bust—and with it, a lot of excuses why your advertising and marketing wasn't as effective as you wanted it to be.
"The Internet is revolutionizing advertising!"
"Network TV is doomed!"
"Magazines are dying!"
"Free radio is dead!"
"Madison Avenue is a dinosaur!"


Oh, please. Why not just yell "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" and be done with it?
We've seen recessions.
We've seen the previous death of TV and the rise of cable.
We've seen new audiences and new media come and go.
And through it all, we continue to see good advertising out there that works.
Why? Because there are still people out there who know what to do to make it work.

Somewhere between the nineties' hype, the Internet bubble, and the large layoffs of senior and middle marketing and advertising management, the information presented in our book—much of it timeless—got lost. Poof. Disappeared. So we finally decided to provide the help we heard actual questions about and write the book our seminar audiences have long requested. Real, usable help. So up-and-coming advertising professionals can do their jobs well today and brilliantly tomorrow. Advice that can let you truly manage your job and your people . . . not just, well, manage to get by.


It's vital, everyday information that you need each and every day on the job. It's information, for the most part, that we were taught day in and day out on our jobs, no matter the company or the industry. But we find that today's marketing and advertising executives just don't have those learning opportunities. Few have been trained well by their supervisors, fewer in formal company classes. And, what's not been taught has not been learned.

All of you know most of what's in our book. Most of you know some of it. But we all forget most of it some of the time. It's mostly just common sense. But as Steve's seventh-grade math teacher used to tell him, "common sense isn't so common."

Jeff and Steve, co-authors of The Little Blue Book of Advertising are now two of the principals of Unconventional Wisdom developing Web 2.0 content for clients. They can be reached at www.uwisdom.com

STEVE LANCE has been Creative Director of NBC; Associate Creative Director of Backer & Spielvogel; and Creative Director of the entertainment division of Della Femina, Travisano & Partners. He's been a Member of the Board of Directors of The Copy Club of New York and ghostwriter of the bestseller "It's Your Money – The E*TRADE Guide To Online Investing."

JEFF WOLL was an integral part of the growth and success of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. Eventually he became Managing Director, CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Partners and then head of Corporate Development of O&M, working with the Chairman and Vice Chairman of North America on long-range strategic planning, new technologies and potential acquisitions. Jeff led a spin-off from O&M and formed Red Shark Technology which he sold to IBM.

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