“Contrary to popular belief, Americans don’t hate advertising.”
-Roy H. Williams
Americans love watching the Super Bowl for the commercials. People who don’t even watch football watch the game so they don’t miss the ads.
Magazines and trade publications have seen a rise in advertising, and there seems to be no real complaint.
Yet, when you talk with people- especially in a large setting- there seems to be a negative light shone on advertising. Why?
I believe that there are several reasons why people may say they don’t like advertising, but aren’t sure why.
-Advertising done poorly or done by non-advertisers
-The lack of advertising/marketing advocates in the foreground
-The abundance of popular advertising “haters”
-The popular Adpeople that make everyone look bad
I am not alone in saying that there are a few professionals in advertising that aren’t exactly ethical. But I would also say that the ethical professionals in advertising and communications far outnumber the bad ones.
But unfortunately, society only hears about the bad ones.
The media and government love to run with the news when the FCC cracks down on a misleading advertising campaign. On one occasion, I could have swore I saw Al Franken frothing at the mouth during one such instance.
A story of how an AdPerson kept to their ethics, and pioneered truth in advertising would never hit the headlines.
A story about the Ad Council, and how many of those campaigns are given thousands of dollars from advertising agencies, would never be highlighted during a congressional campaign. Why?
The Ad World knows why. It’s not a sexy story.
Someone told the truth? Who cares.
But then the US gets all up in arms when brands have to correct themselves.
But that isn’t the part that bothers me. What bothers me are people like Frank Luntz. Or maybe his visibility. He is the marketing researcher who helped coined the phrases ‘death tax’ (versus ‘estate tax’) and ‘War on Terror’ (instead of ‘US Global Man Hunt’, I guess).
Genius? Sure, he has the amazing talent to use words and phrases that resonate.
Ethical? Now that is an interesting question. Perhaps it is my political bias that I simply cannot stand the man and every time he opens his mouth I get angry.
Or perhaps he is his own worst enemy. People categorize what he does for the GoP with what advertising and communications people do for brands- create words, images and phrases that force them to act the way they want.
Are people in the wrong for thinking so? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.
Perhaps it’s his method; using fear and scary words to manipulate the populace. (I’m trying to figure out my displeasure of them, so please bear with me).
Fear is an emotion that is extremely powerful. Fear is our anxiety for what we don’t know. Uncertainty. Tying policies to “death” and “terror” then, would (and did) prove to be extremely impacting. Dare I say, Luntz was impressive.
So communicators have Luntz, the media, and the government against them. That’s fine. But I also see professionals against the profession.
For example, making up words that are against the industry (see ‘unmarketing’, and ‘change agents’). And I find it funny because those words get so popular because those professionals are really really good at marketing.
So what is the point of this post?
1. People like good advertising and communications.
2. Media and government like to point out the bad in advertising to make themselves look like they’re doing something important.
3. Advertising professionals must do a better job highlighting the good folks. Not separate themselves from the industry altogether.
4. Luntz, and people like him, are jerks.
Let’s get our act together, Ad-Brethren. The US is a consumption-based society, so as long as that’s the case, we’ll be around. I don’t care if we’re not liked, but some appreciation couldn’t hurt.