Thursday, March 4, 2010

One decision.

When you're an advertising agency or a client, you face just one decision about your commercials. It's not about what director to choose, or what VO, or what jingle you choose. The decision you need to make is more elemental: Do you want to be boring or do you want to be daring?

There are about ten companies in the US that can afford to be boring in their marketing communications but about ten-thousand companies that bore.

You can afford to be boring is you dominate the category you're in and you're willing to spend billions to lose a couple of marketshare points a year. You can't afford to be boring if you wish to gain marketshare or mind share.

So, Microsoft can afford to be boring. They have 90% share of the OS market. And no one, not even Apple, can shake that too much. The big 3 automakers used to be able to be boring because essentially the three of them divided up the six-million cars a year sold in the US to the satisfaction of each of them.

Coke and Pepsi can afford to be boring, and are, because they each have huge marketshare and that share seldom moves more than a tenth of a point in either direction. The only time they seem to do advertising that's smart and energetic is when some CMO says they want to be the market leader. Other than that, they produce sameness.

Most clients, of course, are not dominant market leaders. However, most clients and agencies think that if they produce something big and boring--if they look like a big a boring company, people will think they are big and will come to them.

This never works.

The thousands of hours I spend a year fighting with clients about stupid ass things like is their logo large enough are really meaningless. The only thing that matters is the one big thing: boring or daring.