September 25, 2007

Quantum Advertising

Quantum theory makes scientists crazy. It's the only area of science in which the idea of cause and effect (or, as they like to say, "deterministic causality") has to be suspended. One of the consequences of quantum theory is that in certain cases things just pop into and out of existence. In fact, there are physicists who believe our whole universe is a quantum event -- it just appeared out of nothing for no reason.

Even Einstein, whose work laid the foundation for quantum physics, hated the idea. And yet it's the best and only explanation science has for a ton of phenomena that occur at the atomic and sub-atomic scale.

I'm starting to believe in quantum advertising. I think there are things that just happen for no reason. I've seen ad campaigns that are brilliant, strategically perfect, and beautifully produced fail miserably. I've seen stupid, ill-conceived campaigns work miraculously. Sometimes, all our logic just doesn't work.

I've seen agencies with tremendous experience in a category get a new account in that category and make a pig's breakfast out of it. I've seen the world's dumbest agencies get accounts they had no right to win and succeed wildly with awful, insight-free advertising.

It's uncomfortable for us to believe that success and failure in business are sometimes random and just happen in spite of our efforts. We've been taught to look for reasons. But I guess if a whole universe can appear for no good reason, the odd marketing success can, too.


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