I am doing my best not to throw stones at Susan Credle from Leo Burnett, who’s interviewed in Forbes.com today, but I really can’t help it.
I’ve never met Ms. Credle, but I respect the heck out of Burnett, so I figure she’s gotta have a lot on the ball.
But I find it curious that she’s defending the status quo at a time when all the big brand shops are making their way to the LaBrea Tar Pits.
Credle says that using Web analysis to target ads based on a given consumer’s behavior casts too small a net, and that the traditional advertising model, which “exposes people to choices” is a better way to build a brand.
She’s right that marketers should not panic during tough economic times, and that the knee-jerk reaction of cutting marketing and advertising always erodes a brand’s cache to the point where some never recover.
But not using all means available to efficiently direct the message toward consumers who are likely to try your product or service (and then leverage their joy to motivate other consumers to do the same) is wasteful and represents the old way of thinking.
There’s a helplessness and an ignorance here that troubles me. If I understand what she’s saying, then the big agencies are clinging to strategies that combine the old “shove it down your throat” branding campaigns with meaningless statistical data to sell stuff as though it’s 1965.
News flash: “Mad Men” is a TV SHOW. Welcome to 2010, people.
Ries & Ries got it right about eight years ago. Advertising is an art form, but it’s lost its usefulness as an effective sales tool. Yes, your TV spot is pretty to look at. Yes, we admire your billion-dollar-buying power and your fancy offices. Yes, I’d much prefer to wear a grey flannel suit than jeans and a T-shirt.
But all that stuff costs money. And to expect the client to pay your agency’s freight for the two account service reps, the art director, copywriter, creative director, media planner, media buyer, producer, director, union talent, etc. that it takes to get your message to the marketplace is living a three-martini dream that doesn’t exist anymore.
I miss those days of excess as much as the next exec. Trust me. I am just old enough to remember the ’80s when we were all living large, and that was a lot more fun than sweating it out in a basement gym and playing “Eye of the Tiger.”
Times change, and Leo’s gotta change, too. Or they could all wind up selling apples.