Not getting it

Tom Guarriello has a good post about Jack Trout. Jack’s having a panic attack about the rise of amateur advertising.

“It’s a real problem,” says Jack Trout, a veteran marketing consultant at Trout & Partners, in Greenwich, Conn. “And the problem gets bigger the more people see this stuff. It begins to muddy the message.” He concludes: “The ad industry should rise up against” amateur ads.

This is, as Tom says, pretty laughable stuff.

I’ve never been much of a fan of the Ries:Trout view of marketing as war, in which organisations attempt to own parts of our minds. It was always a bit grandiose to suggest marketing could somehow dictate the image of an organisation. These days it looks downright stupid too. As Tom puts it

Please. The power structure is obviously so threatened by what’s going on out here that some of the big-timers are starting to become delerious.

6 thoughts on “Not getting it

  1. David Burn

    “Not Getting It” is the perfect header for this entry. This story keeps on going and going, as if it’s a battery ad. But there’s nothing to it–no substance. People outside the ad biz do not seem to grasp that making speculative TV spots or print ads is a time-honored tradition. It’s how creative people build their body of work. These ads are not meant for the public. Thus, they’re not threatening in any way. What it threatening is the fact that an ad like the VW suicide bomber spot can be let loose on the net and from there assigned all sorts of meaning by the various voices in the press and blogosphere.

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  2. Johnnie Moore

    Hi David, I’m not sure I’m getting your drift so correct me if I’m wrong.

    I wasn’t thinking of the VW ad in particular, but of the myriad ways in which consumers get to pick and play with the ideas lobbed out to them by organisations. It seems to me that the VW is just a particularly provocative example of this process.

    But I’m intrigued by your language. You talk about an ad being “let loose” as if it some kind of man-eating tiger. You speak of it as threatening, but I don’t get who or what is threatened… unless you mean the illusion of ad agencies that they get to dictate the brand image.

    You say there’s “nothing to it”; yet clearly there is something that engages people, a rarity for advertising.

    I dunno David, I think you’re setting yourself up as a defender of the branding establishment. I suspect that blogging is alien to the dinosaurs, so I’m glad they’ve got you to stand up for them! Perhaps you can help Jack Trout to organise his massive popular uprising against the monstrous regiments of amateurs. But I take some pride in being one of those amateurs – don’t you?

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  3. David Burn

    I realized a few months back that I was indeed taking on the role of brand advocate, which seemed kind of odd to me, since I’m also quite critical of much of what the ad biz produces day in and day out. But I am what I am–an ad agency copywriter. So no, I’m not an amateur, but an industry insider.

    All I’m saying about this supposed rise of amateur ads is that it’s not what it seems. Hence, there’s nothing for Jack Trout to worry about. Let’s take the VW viral ad for exapmle. It was created by a professional creative team to improve their reel. There’s nothing amateur about it. As far as the let loose comment, what I mean is we don’t know how the ad got spread so far and wide. Did it’s makers hope to create this kind of buzz? Or did someone at one of the agencies they sent their reel to, simply post it without asking, thereby creating this storm of controversy?

    Now, to your point about agencies dictating brand image. Maybe we do not like this model, but it is still the working model. Take Wal-Mart, for instance. They’re running a documentary style ad right now wherein a local merchant claims all the traffic created by his local Wal-Mart is good for his business because he happens to be in the path of said traffic. The spot never questions the town center merchants losing their shirts because of Wal-Mart. That’s framing the message.

    Sure consumers can and do revolt, and Wal-Mart for one has a growing resistance movement to confront. But is this resitance movement shaping the mega-retailer’s brand identity? I don’t think so.

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  4. Johnnie Moore

    Thanks for the feedback, David. I get the picture more clearly. Lately I’m trying to move away from making predictions about what will happen towards what I want to happen. I want people to rebel against fake branding, I want it to fail. I want to be part of the resistance to the posturing. The debate about whether the resistance can succeed may distract from saying what we ourselves think!

    Reply
  5. David Burn

    I’m all for authenticity Johnnie, and I’m with you all the way in this fight against hollow posturing.

    McDonald’s recently introduced a fake blog, following the example set by Sega and ESPN last summer. Burger King has also dipped into the fake messaging arena. I’m troubled by this trend because some of the best agency people (namely Wieden and Crispin) are using blogs and other conversationsal techniques for wrong-headed purposes, in my opinion.

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