Soapboxes For Everyone

In the comments area on Gaping Void, Dwight Little recently had this to say, “Advertising as we know it is ineffective. Advertising as we know it is obsolete. Advertising as we know it is extinct.
Have I got that right?
Once again, I ask Hugh – and Keith and the rest – if “the ‘conventional’ ad biz must die a quick and sudden death,” what will replace it?
I’m not trying to be snarky or insincere. I am genuinely curious. I keep hearing people on this site gas on about advertising’s ills – and there is much truth to what you say. But I don’t hear too many concrete alternatives.”

Good work, Mr. Little.
Keith responded by saying, “What is going to replace conventional marketing/advertising? Producing the best products and services. Look, for the last 50 years, the bulk of what the consumer was offered has been shit. The role of advertising/marketing has been trying to convince the consumer that this chicken shit is chicken salad.”
Keith goes on to wax poetic about California’s In-N-Out Burgers, concluding that McDonald’s, despite all their ad dollars spent, can’t compete with In-N-Out in a corner-to-corner competition. In other words, quality with word-of-mouth behind it trumps junk with money behind it any day.
That part, I’m happy to buy. But, it remains to be seen if consumers will link together and demand better products and better service (to say nothing of better marketing) from firms that casually flaunt their flimsy offerings in our faces. At this point, I don’t see too many companies lining up to voluntarily dismantle marketing in favor of product development. So, it will take active, persistent and widespread consumer participation to drive this ship forward. And it’s not about the end of anything, certainly not the end of advertising. It’s about better communications creating more trust and tighter relationships.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.