If you want it to work - care about it

Cardinal feeding chicks.jpg

A male Cardinal feeding its chicks. Image courtesy of frnch.

I recently gave a talk at which I harangued the attentive and no doubt hugely appreciative audience about the enduring power of advertising – the things that it does that the other marketing disciplines can’t touch.

Regular readers might know this as my monopoly, magic and meaning rant.

I always end up this oratorical hailstorm with the warning that stellar success is advertising’s promise, but that it rarely lives up to that promise and it is down to clients to ensure that it does for them.

Anyway in the Q&A someone asked, appropriately, how as a client you could make sure your agency is delivering the goods.

And of course there is no easy answer to this although ensuring you are with the right agency for you and your business kinda helps.

But there may be a shortcut and that is to care about it.

To care about the advertising that you produce. To care that the strategy is right and not just comfortable. To care that the work is potent and not just self-indulgent. And to care about delivering real success and not just a couple of percentage points on last year’s performance.

You see there is a great temptation today to marginalise the advertising part of the mix. To see it as an ornament for the brand that is incapable of delivering tangible results for the business but that you need to serve up to maintain a share of voice or corporate appearances.

This is particularly the case as the modern marketer is able to spend less and less of their working week attending to their advertising given the many other calls on their time from corporate re-organisations to the proliferation of other and no less important marketing disciplines.

But the tricky thing about advertising is that you can’t just set it up and let it run on rails – it needs constant and senior attention if it is to deliver for you. And that is because it is one of the least predictable marketing investments you can make - and all the better for it. Get it right and the outcome can be totally disproportionate to the budget you spend, get it wrong and it's cash down the drain.

This doesn’t mean spending a disproportionate time on your advertising – although getting the brand idea right up front should be a priority – but caring about it passionately when you do turn your mind to it.

And ensuring that your team care about it too.

Otherwise your advertising budget will be long on promises but rather short on delivery


Richard -- Very well put. This can really be expanded to any area of marketing, but it's very hard to get through to clients. The bigger the budget the more attention should be paid to it and the more analysis should be done. Sadly the follow up budget usually gets eaten up or put on the back burner. Caring is key!

Posted by: Matt Dickman at July 4, 2007 05:02 AM

Its always easy to see when a lot of love (care) has been put into the advertising isn't it?

Posted by: Charles Frith at July 4, 2007 07:40 AM

Good point. It is almost impossible to do a good, meaningful and worth attention or remebering work when you don't care about what you do. Engagement and enthusiasm are key features people need have to make difference - not only in job but also in life.

Posted by: Daria Radota Rasmussen at July 4, 2007 09:32 AM

sounds a bit like bringing up children... although with kids I think the budget is generally larger

Posted by: jemster at July 4, 2007 02:53 PM

Isnt that what makes W+K work? They rarely combine the best strategy and best execution, but the care they put into the campaign stands out every single time. You genuinely feel that they understand the brands they sell.

I cant imagine the Pizza Hut lunchtime revolution campaign or the Cravendale characters campaign working for any other agency.

Posted by: Rob Mortimer at July 5, 2007 02:43 PM

I don't think there is any doubt that W+K care about the work. The point is that their clients clearly do as well. and that probably makes all the difference

Posted by: richard huntington at July 5, 2007 02:56 PM

Absolutely. I think the W+K atmosphere helps promote that care as well.

Posted by: Rob Mortimer at July 6, 2007 11:39 AM

this is too often true for advertising, but is almost always true for engagement ideas. a big budget ad can be months in the process, but brands expect you to be able to put on an exhibition, do 'something online' and stage an event as after-thoughts. one brand exhibition i went to recently was like it had been done in an afternoon and shot on a mobile phone (big clue here). it was disastrous. instead of feeling as though the brand was interesting and creative, we just left with the feeling that it was slapdash and ordinary. it's care with this emerging area that is most important in my view.

Posted by: sidekick at July 12, 2007 10:17 PM

is this comment thing working? just posted but it's disappeared into the ether-net

Posted by: sidekick at July 12, 2007 10:20 PM