When it comes to assessing advertising, some of those in the industry divide themselves into two people:
They have an excellent idea of what advertising needs to be for the general public. They gain this insight by looking at the advertising they experience on a daily basis and saying, ‘Wow, that’s really annoying. Being followed around the internet as a result of having your privacy invaded and your conversations spied on really sucks. There’s no way I’d ever recommend my clients to advertise in that manner because it would leave their brand with a sheen of negativity that encompasses untrustworthiness and general dislike.” They realise that big logos make them turn pages faster, cramming lots of stuff onto billboards makes them impossible to take in, and preroll makes people hate brands because they are responsible for a tedious delay in gratification. They know that programmatic digital buys can often result in ads appearing in unsavoury places where they are ‘watched’ by bots that the client then has to pay for.
They take an ad brief for preroll without question. They say that it’s just a little 5-15 second ad that’s kind of the price of running a site like YouTube. They increase logo sizes because they were asked to by a person in a slightly bad mood, and anyway, they’ll be able to enter the ‘awards’ version that ran once somewhere obscure and cheap. They recommend programmatic because it’s a great way to reach a lot of people for not a lot of money, and besides, everyone’s using it so can it really be that bad? They don’t really mind the idea of their ads following people around because the public understand it’s how ads work these days, and besides, it’s not their problem if the general public dislikes their client as a result – the general public hates all ads, so this one won’t really make much difference. They’ll make a poster with seven different typefaces and four different messages because it means their bosses will chill out and it won’t really affect their wages or career prospects because the aforementioned ‘award’ version will win a Creative Circle Bronze.
Of course this isn’t everyone, and of course I’m exaggerating (ever so slightly), but I do wonder why we often look at our work like ‘ad people’ and then get annoyed at the results when we look at them like ‘consumers’.
Unlike others, we can actually change the things that annoy us. We’re often there in the room with the people making decisions (hell, we might even be the people making the decisions), so we can use the facts to persuade clients to do what’s effective, interesting, disruptive, memorable and beautiful. Bus drivers, civil servants and zookeepers don’t get that privilege; they just have to suck up the bad stuff.
It’s like being in Number 10 Downing Street every day and saying ‘Yes, Theresa, Brexit is a great idea that will advance Britain’s position in the world and bring economic prosperity for all of her citizens,’ and not, ‘Hang on there, Theresa. Can I just show you this graph and these documents that prove Brexit is going to be a disaster for millions of people?‘
I’m not saying that 100% of clients will listen 100% of the time, and they might well have some pretty good graphs and documents of their own, but if you don’t fight the good fight you have to continue having the annoying experiences.
Next time you get the chance, do yourself several favours and make something both of you will enjoy.