YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Problems With Advertising Start With Paranoid, Uncreative Agency Management

March 13, 1988

Thank you for a well-informed, depressingly true analysis of the state of American advertising (Feb. 21, Viewpoints, "Advertising Has a Lot to Learn From New, Improved--and Smarter--Public").

Many ad agencies have lost sight of the fact that they are in the business of creating marketing concepts that will sell the client's product. As your column quite rightly pointed out, consumers are turning off vulgar, shocking and pat depictions of humanity.

How many more sugary sweet "isn't-life-just-wonderful-honey" commercials do we have to endure? No wonder the consumer is jaded.

Far too often, ad agency management is paranoid of losing the business if it argues for a creative strategy it knows the client will reject. Pandering to the client ultimately hurts both the client and agency and, possibly, the product or service involved. Lack of conviction by agency management about the power of advertising allows this situation to develop.

The bigger agencies, accepting that they cannot win business on the strength of their creativity, have joined together in a succession of mega-mergers. Even as recently as the 1970s, each major agency could be recognized for certain innate traits or a special philosophy of doing business. Nowadays, nobody knows what anybody stands for, and, worst of all, nobody even cares.

Consumers will increasingly refuse to put up with advertising that offends them, patronizes them or bores them. Clients will increasingly turn to sales promotion and direct marketing that at least shows them a measurable return on their investment.

I would recommend that every agency executive spend at least one month out of the office just talking to everyday people in supermarkets, bars--in fact, anywhere. Then we might get some stunning insights that could be turned into stimulating advertising. And then we might win back some of the respect of the American consumer and of our clients.


Mission Viejo

The writer is an advertising and marketing consultant.

Los Angeles Times Articles