May 21, 2014

False Goals Kill

Among the many ills that afflict the advertising industry, there's currently one that is epidemic-- the pursuit of false goals.

If you are ambitious and want to reach the upper echelons of your agency, it is imperative that you avoid this disease.

There will come a day when you have to make an important presentation.

There will be a roomful of high ranking clients. You will be presenting the results of an expensive advertising program. You will have charts and graphs and Powerpoint slides and video clips and all manner of stats and data.

You will describe to the attendees how awareness numbers have risen sharply; you will show a chart that demonstrates increasing purchase intent; you will explain how the media buy delivered 8% lower cost-per-thousand than the plan anticipated; you will explain the impressive social media metrics that were achieved, and that brand attributes have risen sharply.

Your contact person at the client organization will be sitting proudly watching you deliver the good news.

But there will be a problem. The problem will be that there will be a smart person in the room. And the smart person will ask one question: What happened to sales?

You will dance and sing and whistle and do ventriloquism. But if the answer is anything other than sales increased, you're dead. Oh, they won't embarrass you in the meeting. They'll wait for you to push the down button and then they'll rip you to pieces.

There is one and only one true goal of advertising -- to sell stuff.

There are plenty of delusional people all around you who don't get this -- your client contact,  planner, account exec, creative director. They want you to believe that that there are other more virtuous goals.

Do not get mislead by these people. Your objective is not engagement (whatever the hell that means) or branding (ditto) or gathering friends or likes, or raising awareness or...

Your one and only goal is to sell shit. Sooner or later, someone smart is going ask what happened to sales. And if the answer is wrong, it's aloha and mahalo.

Remember this, amigo -- there is no quicker route to oblivion than the successful achievement of false goals.


Jim Powell said...

Do you know what the funniest thing is?

Eventually someone will say the relationship isn't working. And to solve this they bring in the psychologist and relationshipologist to sort out what went wrong, 'the relationship'.

Why doesn't the client and agency have a strong relationship? They ponder with passion and enthusiasm. Perhaps we need more bonding sessions, more tissue meetings, more mock workshops, more collaboration, better proprietary tools, you know the stuff...lets go build a raft together...

They'll spend oodles and fail.

Eventually they fire the agency. And then use the same methods as they used to hire the one they just fired to insure they get the same agency again, albeit with a different name.

They'll produce RFIs that state we need an agency that is this size, has x experience, has nice people, are uber passionate about brands, motivated, clever, has strong opinions but aren't too pushy, has a philosophy similar to ours (the one that doesn't work) and so on. All just to make sure we are looking for the same agency we just fired give or take.

Repeat till fade. This is why tenure rates get shorter and shorter. Client jump from bad to worse empirically.

What did Einstein say about doing the same things over and expecting different results?

LeShann said...

A-fucking-men. Reminds me of Martin Weigel's take-downs of engagement

Sell! Sell! said...

Great post, spot on Bob (and such is the origin of the name Sell! Sell!).

Vitor said...

Bob, one of the greates copywriters here in Brazil once wrote in his website:

"Advertising doesn't sell stuff. The sentence wouldn't mean much if it'd been said by a delusional creative, but it was Ken Sapiro, a planner, who said it. And it got me wondering. Sapiro is right. Lets stop the hypocrisy. Advertising's goal, as the name sugests, is to advertise. To make something known, talked and buzzed about. The one responsible for selling is the salesman. Our responsibility, mister client, is to make sure the audience knows your product exists. To make them open and interested. To drive them to your store, website or call center. From that moment on, it is up to you. It is up to your capacity to create the conditions which will make the sale happen. We walk the bride down the alley. But it is the groom who has to fuck her."

(Sorry, my translation, there might be mistakes.)

What do you think of this point of view?

Vitor said...

Two mistakes: the planner's name is Karol Sapiro and I should've written "greatest" instead of "greates".

Stephen Eichenbaum said...

Amen. The only problem is many clients will not share sales numbers with the agency.So much for being 'partners" in marketing.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

You're trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube, Bob. Fighting the good fight gets you fired now because clients want to be kowtowed to and told they're doing visionary things, even when they're shit clients. Advertising has conditioned its clientele to expect "more" for "less." We've jumped the shark so far that we've landed in the piranha tank. Selling things is so far from the "conversation" that bringing it up makes people look at you funny. Ask me how I know, and can someone give me a hand with these piranha?

Guest said...

correct me if I'm wrong: when a friend of yours tells you about a great vacation he's been on (service, price, scenery, food...) and tells you the name of the tourist agency he's not "selling" it. he's just "make something known". the "selling" thingy is a job solely sales personnel does.
is that what you/this Karol guy are saying?
I mean - REALLY?

Jonathan Rodgers said...

When all the smoke has been blown away, when all the mirrors have been cracked, when all the dogs have been quieted, when all the ponies have been stabled, when all the bullshit has been shoveled, there is only sales.

Right you are, Bob. It's only relevant question in advertising. "Did you sell more stuff than last year?"

By the way, advertising does sell stuff. When I ran DQ creatively from '02 to '07 their sales went up almost 40%. (and it started from numbers in the red.) How did I know it was the advertising? Believe or not, the client said it. Everything else was the same - except the advertising.

LeShann said...

I've even seen this in cases where we try to get econometrics models in place...

Vitor said...

I think what Sapiro (and Eugenio Mohallem, the copywriter who wrote the quote) are trying to say is that you can't blame ONLY advertising if your sales don't rise.

To take your example: what if my friend recommends a travel agency, but I'm poorly treated when I go there? According to your logic, I've been sold the agency. And yet, they won't get my money.

That may be obvious to us, people who get that advertising is pointless if your product, price and stuff aren't good. But I thought it might be worth mentioning, because Bob's post seemed a bit too radical. If your advertising isn't raising your profits, maybe, just maybe, the agency isn't the one who's failing.

Sell! Sell! said...

You can't fucking beat a poorly drawn metaphor for complicating a simple subject.

Charlotte said...

So what was the increase in Oreo sales after Super Bowl?

Hmmm, this got me thinking about the greatest Social Coup Of All Time. The Oreo tweet during Super Bowl. I did a casual Google search for “oreo sales increase super bowl”.

I found a lovely story on Forbes with this quote: from Lisa Mann, VP of Cookies, Q: “So how will all of this social-media groundswell impact sales? A: “Stores weren’t open late last night, so we’ll have to see how things go…we’ll just have to see how it plays out”.”

I found these stats on a Wordpress site:

• 280% increase in Facebook shares

• 510% increase in re-tweets on Twitter

• 1 million Facebook likes

• 230 million media impressions on other sites

And the only sales figure I found (albeit a short search – went eight pages deep on the Google search) was on Merchandising Matters’ site
posted well over a year after SB:

“Oreo saw a 60% growth in annual sales when tailoring cookie
favors to local tastes.”

You know, Bob, you may be on to something here.