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Business Consulting For The 21st Century Via A Holistic & Intelligent Approach

The truth about advertising

Answered => “Why do radio commercials make me feel like jumping out of a moving car?” on Quora.

=> My answer…

First, perhaps it’s not just the commercials that are swaying your judgement? Maybe it’s not what you’re running from but what you’re being pulled to? While you kinda sorta infer otherwise, NPR is actually a consistent high quality experience. There are plenty of things that are worse than being “forced” to listen to NPR while in the car.

Put another way, you were on Facebook, now you’re on Quora. It’s not that Facebook sucks. It’s that Quora is superior.

That being said, the quality of advertisements in general is fairly weak, at least in the USA. One of the driving forces you need to consider is what happens *before* they are broadcast for public consumption.

Think about the atmosphere in the agency’s biggest and best conference room when they bring the client in for the “big moment”. There are probably at least 20 people in the room. There’s plenty of food. Everyone is happy (even if they’re a bit nervous underneath). Eventually the light dim, the screen drops, the volume goes up and the show begins. It’s not just a commercial but an assault on the sense like no other. Then 30 or 60 seconds later there’s an unstoppable round of clapping and cheering. The second coming has arrived.

Yet of course the client loves it. Or course they think it’s brilliant. They just shelled out some serious coin so “Oh. We just eff’ed up” isn’t a consideration. Of course the agency is wearing a shit eating grin while they pat themselves on the back. Unfortunately, the reality is they’re not sitting next to you or me with the phone ringing, the dog barking, the computer on, the ipad handy, after working all day, etc. They’re not there when we do finally look up and mumble, “What crap.” Since they don’t get that perspective they continue as usual.

In short…context matters.

Full disclosure: The bit about the agency is paraphrased from “What Sticks” by Briggs and Stuart. I don’t think it was ever a high profile top seller. But in terms of using an analytical process for marketing and advertising I would say “What Sticks” is 5+ years ahead of its time. I wish they’d do a follow up with a internet savvy and social media-centric twist.

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