Bob Hoffman’s Secrets Are Out In The Open

The difference between a great agency and a good one–or a great creative team and a good one–is not what they can make, it’s what they can sell. It has long been my contention that 90% of the people in this business can create One Show-level work. But only 10% of the people in this business can sell it. Bob Hoffman, CEO of Hoffman/Lewis, has been exploring the reasons why.
He blames meetings that take on exaggerated importance, a focus on the unimportant, playing to the crowd and the irrelevant opinions of onlookers. Hoffman suggests that every agency has a “real creative leader” and that every client has a “real decision maker.” In his experience, selling great work simply requires putting these two people in the same room together.
It seems that every post Hoffman makes is full of street smart suggestions. For instance, he wants us stop listening to consumers.

Can we get one thing straight? Listening to consumers is the biggest cliche in marketing; is not a new idea; is most often a waste of time; rarely results in usable insights; can be disastrously misleading; is no substitute for imaginative thinking.

Hoffman also claims the web is not very interactive; that the words “authenticity” and “conversation” are bullshit; that no agency is actually media neutral; and that this is a great time to reinvent the way we do business.
He’s cranky, but in the best way possible.



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 at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.