January 21, 2010

I Don't Know and I Don't Care

Yesterday I wrote
"It is possible that all the front-end work we do to find a suitable brand strategy is terrifically valuable and leads us to brilliant insights that inform our marketing decisions and make our advertising far more effective.  And it is equally possible that it is all a bunch of crap.
As far as I know, there's no scientific evidence either way."
The motivation for writing this was a column I read last week by David Brooks in The New York Times. Brooks was writing about the tragedy in Haiti. His point was that it is part natural disaster and part man-made disaster caused by poverty.

In the column he wrote that all the billions of dollars in aid that has been given to Haiti over the years by people and countries who thought they understood the causes and cures for poverty have been ineffective. But, he says, there are some approaches to poverty eradication that seem to work...
...the Harlem Children’s Zone and the No Excuses schools, are led by people who figure they don’t understand all the factors that have contributed to poverty, but they don’t care.
I certainly don't mean to trivialize poverty by using it as a metaphor for what we do in advertising, but there is a lesson for us here.

Most advertisers, and most agencies, would be so much better off if they didn't pretend they understood "all the factors that contributed to" consumer psychology, and instead just focused on changing consumer behavior.

They spend zillions of dollars trying to affect consumer "attitudes" (which almost always prove unshakable) when they should be spending their time and money focused on changing consumer behavior.

What do people think? I don't know and I don't care.

What do they do? That I can see and that I can affect.

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