I lately wrote a blogpost in German on the poor chaps in advertising. I argued that advertisers are always coming too late with their creative ideas. If the business model they are going to advertise is bad they can’t do much anymore. They are just too late to fix the problems in the business model.
I made the provocative statement that you either have to be extremely creative to make good advertising for bad products or you must be schizophrenic.
The blogpost spured an interesting discussion. One advertiser sent me an ad from Bob Levenson, a guy from an agency called DDB. The ad is from the late 1960s. It is a manifesto for good products and against tricking people with advertising for bad products.
I want to share this ad with you since it is so true also for bad business models. If you have a bad or dated business model you have to change or die as department store Karstadt did. And it is not the fault of a bad economy or because of your competitors.To use the words from the ad. You die from your own skilled hands. It is the fault of your strategy skills.
Here comes the original text of the ad. Thanks to Serge Deville for the text.
DO THIS OR DIE
Is this ad some kind of trick?
No. But it could have been.
And at exactly that point rests a do or die decision for American business.
We in advertising, together with our clients, have all the power and skill to trick people.
Or so we think. But we’re wrong.
We can’t fool any of the people any of the time.
There is indeed a twelve-year-old mentality in this country; every six-year-old has one.
We are a nation of smart people.
And most smart people ignore most advertising because most advertising ignores smart people.
Instead we talk to each other.
We debate endlessly about the medium and the message.
Nonsense. In advertising, the message itself is the message.
A blank page and a blank television screen are one and the same.
And above all, the messages we put on those pages and on those television screens must be the truth.
For if we play tricks with the truth, we die.
Now. The other side of the coin.
Telling the truth about a product demands a product that’s worth telling the truth about.
Sadly, so many products aren’t.
So many products don’t do anything better.
Or anything different.
So many don’t work quite right.
Or don’t last. Or simply don’t matter.
If we also play this trick, we also die.
Because advertising only helps a bad product fail faster.
No donkey chases the carrot forever.
He catches on. And quits.
That’s the lesson to remember.
Unless we do, we die.
Unless we change, the tidal wave of consumer indifference will wallop into the mountain of advertising and manufacturing drivel.
That day we die.
We’ll die in our marketplace.
On our shelves. In our gleaming packages of empty promises.
Not with a bang. Not with a whimper.
But by our own skilled hands.