Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Solution Looking for a Problem, part 5

Worst than anything else, for me, the ads that we ran were boring. They looked exactly like everyone else’s, included way too many words that said nothing, and did nothing more than say “We sell 1394 chips.” Now combine the worst aspects of ads that look like everyone else’s with no problem in mind that can be fixed by an ad and you have a total waste of time and money.

I recall one ad we were shown where the image was a checkered flag like you see used at car races to signify the winner. The black squares were replaced with little black computer chips and the headline read, “Go with a winner. Go with TI.” I was stunned. To my astonishment, the marketing team was pouring over this ad and other similar ads deciding which one they liked the best. It was a classic example of “group think”. Maybe it was because I was against the idea of running ads in the first place, but after a few minutes I stated bluntly that I did not like any of the ideas and wanted the ad agency to try again and the next time, bring us something creative and interesting. The group stopped what they were doing and looked at me with bewilderment like it never occurred to them they could say, “No, all of these are terrible. Bring me something good.” My boss chimed in, with a note of relief in his voice and said, “I agree. None of these will do.”

The ad agency was equally bewildered and a little offended. However, I knew that these were creative people and would probably be glad in the long run. They were the official ad agency for my company and had probably gotten used to developing college freshman quality ads knowing that “engineers turned marketers” were not comfortable with anything creative. Surely they would find it a breath of fresh air to do what they had gone into advertising to do and dream up a few ad concepts that were ground breaking or at least interesting.

A few weeks later, they came back with a stack of equally boring ideas to which my boss flat stated, “These are worse than the last ones. I do not think we can do business with you.” At that point I realized that there is a place for advertising majors who have no spark of creativity and that is serving clients with no spark of imagination. Unfortunately for this agency, they ran across a client who didn’t know any better and had the arrogance to tell them that their work was no good.

We asked our MarCom team to find us another agency to work with.

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