The AdPulp Twitterview: @jeffdachis

Hearing about the future of advertising is getting kind of old. Maybe it’s just oversaturated me, but that’s how it feels sometimes. So, when Jeffrey Dachis, founder of Razorfish and serial entrepreneur, tweeted about his new colleague’s Power Point above, I balked a little.
Let’s follow the TweetStream, shall we:
JD: The Future of Advertising from @armano – WTF?
DB: re: future of advertising – the interactive sandbox is a new and improved sandbox but the game remains the same
JD: Not really.
DB: naturally, i respect what you’ve built and what you do. all i’m saying is “the game” is still about communicating brand value.
JD: The process of “communicating brand value” needs to be replaced with “engaging constituents in a value exchange.”
JD: So as I said, Its not really about communicating brand value anymore
DB: “engaging constituents in a value exchange” is great, provided they are willing. are constituents not the product of persuasion?
JD: No… If you’ve listened to a constituent’s needs, you don’t need to persuade them
DB: if your starting place is constituency, more power to you. most branded propositions however, do not start from that place.
DB: this back-and-forth is good fodder for the old blahg – email me if you have more to add – – thanks
JD: Most branded propositions fail to persuade. That’s a tough place to start
Editor’s note: the exchange then went to email
JD: its not about interrupt and persuade…
its about engage, listen, and exchange value….
DB: Thanks Jeff. I agree, actually. It seems where we don’t agree is that one has replaced the other. I don’t see that. I see it all working together. Since, you used the word “constituent,” let’s think politics for a sec. You don’t get to listen to the people until you first persuade the public to become your constituents. One step, then the other.
JD: This:
1) Ask people what they want
2) Listen to them
3) Deliver that to them
4) Repeat
will replace this:
1) Tell people what you want them to hear
2) Attempt to persuade them that what you are telling them is what they want
3) Hope that when they are thinking about buying something that what you told them will resonate with them at that moment
4) Modify message until you think it is working

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. 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. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. There’s no doubt that the ad world is evolving, however, I don’t think we can just assume you can thrust an unfamiliar brand right into the social media circles and expect it to become a huge success overnight. Were not quite there, yet. People point to Obama’s Presidential campaign as setting the bar for the power of social media, and I would agree with that. At the same time, you have to take into consideration the massive amounts he spent on television. It wasn’t all social media. His success came from a very smart mix of broadcast, guerilla, online, social media and public relations. Even in the future, people are going to want to know the value of a brand before they start to engage with it.

  2. I haven’t seen Armano’s presentation (SlideShare is down for maintenance), but Dacshis is fairly accurate in his assessment. I say fairly, because the notion that businesses can simply “ask people what they want” and then “deliver that to them” is obviously flawed. It is the role of great organizations to imagine a better future for everyone; a future that others simply can not envision. And then to strategically take risks to bring that future to life for the benefit of their “constituents.”
    But he is right on with marketers’ obsession with words and persuasion at the expense of curiosity and value creation. That’s the subject matter of my new book. I also touch on it in a recent short article. Here’s an excerpt:
    “Here’s the elephant in marketing’s cluttered and chaotic room: Marketers are obsessed with words. They believe that they are in the communication and persuasion business. They incorrectly compare the marketing of products and services in a supersaturated marketplace to marketing a political candidate or making a legal case, where ambivalent people are forced to choose between only two alternatives. This worldview has them fixated on doing things right ―right message, right medium, right slogan, right tagline, et al.―blinding them to the most
    important marketing question: Are we doing the right things?”
    Organizations desperately need creative agencies to move them to differentiate their brands and create valuable experiences (including communication) which tickles, charms, and inspires constituents. Experiences that allow constituents to make meaning, discover, participate and share.
    The days of manipulating words to create messages that impress, convince, and persuade is quickly coming to an end. Made to stick is thankfully giving way to made to engage, empower and make a difference.

  3. David: My takeaway after reading this is that you guys are both right because you’re talking about two distinctly different things:
    Dachis seems to be talking about the R&D cycle. While seemingly obvious, the notion that the key to success in the age of social media is to “make better products” is one that, to his point, often falls on deaf ears. And his take on the old way of advertising is correct, particularly in terms of larger manufacturers who push products out without every wondering if anyone will want what they’re selling. So his three or four point process is exactly what I’d advise any company looking to create new products or services or revise existing ones.
    That model doesn’t take into account what you are talking about: how to market existing products that aren’t Prom King brands. How do you get people to tell you what they want from a product they don’t think a whole lot about or, more to the point, don’t really want anything from?
    That’s where the Burnsian model comes into play.

  4. Tom, you know I love you man, but I don’t love this:

    The days of manipulating words to create messages that impress, convince, and persuade is quickly coming to an end.

    First, “manipulating” is a heavy word. How about we swap that to “writing”? Now for the important part…
    You, Dachis, me and everyone else is busting ass to persuade our existing and future clients that our POV is the right one. That we’re worth the investment they’re about to make in our process and the path we’ve laid before them.
    I’m choosing to keep my POV/process/path as clean as can be. By clean I mean focused on the true reason I’m in the room—to help move branded products and services.
    If the product in question calls for deep engagement with a select group of brand loyalists, I’ll suggest that. If the product in question calls for an event series supported by snail mail invites, I’ll suggest that.
    There’s a sprint to redefine terms. I get it. In the meantime, there’s a marathon going on all around us.
    The internet has wrought a bunch of changes, but the ad business is fundamentally unaltered. We do more than we used to do, and there’s a distinct whiff of customer empowerment in the air, but positioning is not dead. Persuasion is not dead. Promotion is not dead. These things are not even sick.

  5. You know I love you too David! And I apologize for the choice of the word “manipulate.” I meant it like this: to handle, manage, or use, esp. with skill, in some process of treatment or performance; e.g. to manipulate a large tractor. 🙂
    However, I don’t believe that the ad business is fundamentally unaltered, and I also don’t point to the internet as the primary cause of the changes taking place. It’s the consumer who has evolved, and the industry is slowly playing catch up.
    What’s holding the industry back? IMHO, dated concepts like positioning, USP, top of mind awareness, et al.

  6. @Tom – You mean to tell me that Tom Asacker, the speaker, author and consultant doesn’t have a unique selling proposition? I don’t believe that for a second. So, maybe we’re talking past one another. Either that, or I am seriously old school, because I want AdPulp, Bone Hook and everything else I do to have a position in the market, a unique offering and top of mind awareness among potential customers.

  7. @ David – We are 2/3 of the way towards consensus. 🙂 Yes, I want to be unique. After all, strategic differentiation is the key to brand success. And I also want my niche audience to be aware of the value that I provide. But to my way of thinking making announcements, no matter how cleverly crafted, is not the best way to go about it. People today are skeptical of “propositions” – even subtle ones – which attempt to “convince” them to make a decision. Delivering more and better value over time is the best approach to win their attention, interest, trust and support; whether that value be in the form of aesthetics, entertainment, involvement, social connection and recognition, or just plain old surprise, laughs and good times.

  8. Does this remind anyone else of the New Economy argument pre dot bomb?
    Technologies will continue to advance, but there will always be room for direct, brand, permission and the other 1000 types of successful marketing strategies. I am saddened that marketers would limit themselves to the flavor of the month. Marketing is much more complicated than wash, rinse and repeat.
    Let’s start acting like pros and provide our customers solutions borne at the crossroads of innovation and marketing expertise.

  9. “People today are skeptical of “propositions” – even subtle ones – which attempt to “convince” them to make a decision”
    proof please?