Common Sense in Advertising? It’s a Christmas Miracle!

When did simple become so difficult?

The short answer: who knows? The long answer, of course, is that it’s probably always been that way. Marketing milquetoasts have always been with us, and they always will be. Research-addicted clients have always had agency-side enablers eager to take their money in exchange for the next fix. MBAs have always enjoyed the naughty thrill of masquerading as Mad Men. There have always been people who don’t know what they think until said thought is extrapolated from the congealed results of a focus group, and people for whom sitting in meetings and talking about doing things is seen as the equivalent of actually doing them. (The same people who get so excited about asking Siri “What does my day look like?” when the rest of us know the real question is “Siri, will I actually accomplish anything today?”)

Same as it ever was. It’s just that right now we’re dealing with a down economy, thus the unsure and uptight among us are making the most of it by inserting themselves into more places than ever, turning what is best practiced as a craft into one gigantic clusterpluck. (Hat tip to Brad Paisley for the pseudo-swear word.)

Anyway, given the current silly state of things, it’s extra refreshing to read about clients who, even in this age of overthink, have gone out of their way to choose good old-fashioned common sense. So here are a couple of examples, gift-wrapped just for you.

First, there’s Krispy Kreme CMO Dwayne Chambers who’s whittled his agency roster down from a mind-boggling 17 to one while simultaneously convincing his in-house lawyers to stop sending cease and desist letters to grandmas who had the nerve to express their love for the brand by embroidering Krispy Kreme logos on potholders. Bravo. Full article in Ad Age here.

Next, we have Diamond Foods, whose “fail fast” philosophy puts new lines into selected markets quickly so they can be evaluated and changed on-the-fly before going national. Yes, while others are paying focus group attendees to cut pictures out of magazines and build “brand collages” Diamond is actually observing its products in the actual marketplace, making changes where needed, and then moving forward. Why, it’s almost as if they’re in business to actually sell things. More here.

(Along those same lines, though not really new, here’s an interesting article from Tom Hinkes, former CMO at Dairy Management during the Got Milk? reign, suggesting brand managers replace timidity with talent. Amen, brother.)

And while we’re on the subject of simple vs. complicated, I point you to the Ad Contrarian’s most excellent post on the subject from last year, here.

Finally, for those who still insist advertising really is brain surgery, I give you this. Enjoy. And happy holidays.

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About Wade Sturdivant

Creative Director/Copywriter at The Richards Group, Wade spent his formative years in Chicago (DDB, Leo Burnett) and has worked on accounts as diverse as BMW, Firestone, Bud Light, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s and the U.S. Army.