December 03, 2015

The Error Of Intent

I walk into a crowded party.

"Can I have everyone's attention, please. I just want you all to know that I am the handsomest man in America."

What I have said is that I am an amazingly good looking guy. But what I have communicated is that I am a giant, flaming asshole.

What we say and what we communicate are two very different things.

This is a distinction that is lost on a certain type of tone-deaf marketer.

They create advertising that says, "we have world-class service" or "we make dreams come true" or "the world is a better place because of us." But what they are communicating is "we are clueless buffoons."

They think the closer the language of an ad is to the language of the brief, the better it communicates the strategy. They believe that the more an ad adheres to the wording of the brief, the better it conveys the intent of the strategy. They believe that an ad is a brief re-imagined.

It is no such thing. A best ad is a metaphor for a strategy, not a summary of it.

I could have left this post at...
"What we say and what we communicate are two very different things."
...and you would have shrugged your shoulders and said, yeah, I guess so.

But by giving you the story of "the handsomest man in America" I gave you a metaphor for the point of the piece that you will remember. This is what great advertising does.

It doesn't matter how brilliant or noble your strategy is. If your ad is just a re-stating of the strategy and does not communicate something interesting and memorable you will have wasted your money -- regardless of your intent.

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