Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jonathan Swift on Advertising.

For the last few hours, and for whatever reason, I've had a quotation from Sir John Hegarty rattling around in my head. Maybe it's because the biggest television event of the year is looming, maybe because I've been ensconced with a bunch of "mobile and social strategists," or maybe, likely, I'm just in another of my prodigiously bad moods.

In any event, here's Sir John's quotation:

"...One of the other problems I have today is people have retreated to the edges of advertising. You know, they’re happy to do some small little campaign somewhere or they’re doing something on the net that hardly anybody sees and they’re getting awards for it and everybody’s cheering. But they’re not changing the way people feel or think."

I can't help but think that as creators of marketing communications we are acting, these days, like Lilliputians assailing Gulliver.
We annoy consumers with millions of miniscule messages that have no material effect.

We shoot hundreds, literally hundreds of messages at the consumer, none of which have the size, accuracy or power to make an impact.

Here's a confession.

My wife and I used to have a large basket in the front foyer. We filled it with our mail.  After about two months, we probably had collected about 30 pounds of mail. Most of it stayed unopened.

The same, of course is true of our in-boxes. Last I saw my wife's Yahoo account, I think she had over 7,000 emails unread.

I have never seen a single frame of syndicated content, or responded to a tweet from a brand, and have seldom responded to a banner ad.

I think we've lost the plot.

We've retreated to the edges.

We're firing tiny arrows.

We're annoying, and we're having no impact.

To strain the metaphor, our audience is swatting us away.

None of this is to say TV is wholly effective--especially given DVRs, lack of attention span and so forth. 

But it seems to me that you must be noticed to be considered.

And if I had a brief blink of time to influence a consumer, I do it with the blow from a sledge, not a pinch from a tweezer.

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