Why Bite The Hand That Feeds You?

Two nights ago, I was listening to John Durham's guest appearance on Across The Sound and really enjoying myself. John is a great guy and a great friend, but I couldn't disagree with him more when it came to his bit on people in advertising who dislike advertising. It's perfectly okay to dislike the broadcast model, even if you work in advertising. It's perfectly okay to use DVRs to skip commercials, to block spam, to nuke pop-ups and to get pissed when people start introducing interruptive broadcast commercials into environments that haven't carried advertising previously.

Moreover, it's perfectly okay to work in marketing and dislike advertising. IMHO, we need more people in marketing who dislike advertising, because there's so much wrong with advertising these days that needs fixing, we can use all the help we can get.

There's such an overabundance of broadcast-model advertising out there that not only are most people turned off by the sheer volume of it, but also by the lack of substance behind it. People are tired of being treated like a herd of cattle by broadcast ads. It's insulting.

Put it this way. You see a Lexus ad on TV. Along with the message about the ridiculously low financing, fine features of the car and the call to action is another underlying message. It says, "We're not listening to you. We don't care how many times you've already seen this ad. We don't care whether or not you're even in the market for a car. We don't care that another of our models might be more appropriate for your needs. And we don't care how much the fact that we're not listening annoys you. Just get your ass to the dealer."

Nobody from Lexus corporate wants to engage you in dialogue. They just know that for every ad they run, they'll get X number of people to their local dealer, Y people will test drive and Z cars will be sold. This works for them. When they need to sell more cars, they simply buy more ads and maybe offer a nice incentive for a limited time.

I think that meaningful dialogue and conversation is going to form the backbone of marketing campaigns. It's starting to happen now, but both ad agencies and, more critically, the companies that hire them are going to need to change. We need conversation departments. We need media technology. But most importantly, we need a willingness to listen on the part of the advertiser.

So yeah, it's appropriate to dislike advertising because you want it to change. And my comment about needing more people who dislike advertising is geared toward the folks who could help accelerate the change in the ad model.

Don't feel bad about having a pop-up blocker or a spam blocker. Don't feel bad about thinking ads suck. Don't feel bad about trying to change the ad world you live in (and make your living in).

Other than the implication that people who dislike advertising and work in the field are hypocrites, I think John did a fantastic job on ATS.