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The Ad Contrarian

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Where is the evidence that the traditional
principles of marketing -- "linear... rational... brand-centric" aren't working anymore? They seem to be working pretty damn well for Toyota and Apple.

Jason Oke

Hi - Thanks for the challenge.

First, I'd say the evidence is all around you. The vast majority of advertising (most of it created using traditional marketing assumptions) simply doesn't work, and the most brands are perceived as becoming increasingly similar. Gareth has a good summary of the many ways that advertising is currently not delivering results here:

And I can't speak for Toyota, but having worked on Apple at TBWA surely it's a stretch to attribute Apple's success to "linear & rational" brand building principles. Apple is a pretty multi-faceted and complex brand, no?


Nice Jason.

Leland M

In response to The Ad Contrarian's post...

Tiger Woods, by many measures had the perfect swing. The proof was irrefutable: winning major after major at such a young age and by such a large margin.

Yet, in early 2005, sitting atop the golf community, he changed his swing.

Why change something that's working? What's the point? Evidence told him he was doing great.

He changed because he thought he could do better.

Complacency is an early warning sign of future failure.

We too can do better.


A man of my own heart. Gibson appropriated that line from a social scientist (anthropologist I think) whom said "Society is a consensual hallucination". Still, I hope this line of thinking catches on in a big way soon, but I guess unless you work your neurons constantly the patterns harden with age.....

The Ad Contrarian

I see a lot of assertions but no evidence. Do you mean to tell me that the billions of dollars advertisers are spending are all being wasted? Then why are they doing it?

Of course Apple is a "multi-faceted... complex brand" but they operate under certain clear principles of marketing. They always focus their ads on the product. The iPhone introduction was a 30 second product demo. Not a gorilla banging on drums.

The tortured logic of planning has resulted in too much smug, benefit-free advertising for generic, undifferentiated brands.


Jason: great, brave post. Well done, you mild-manner Canuck!


So, why no change?

I wrote the following in response to Scott Karp's post, Who's Afraid of Online Advertising: http://publishing2.com/2007/09/19/whos-afraid-of-online-advertising

Point 1: people, alone and in groups, make decisions based on faith, not reason. No surprise that they stick with what they know, what has succeeded for them in the past, what presents no risk to them losing their job for advocating something new. The person who stands up and wants to do things differently gets the target on their back.

Point 2: marketers want mass audiences but mass audiences are fast becoming as rare as hens teeth. Why mass audiences? Because then marketing is a system. Design the system and then adjust it as needed. We already have the mass system—get a bunch of people and pound them as hard as you can with the same message.

But the web (and all media, in time) doesn’t conform. Given choices, people gather in smaller groups. They form social bonds or reinforce existing ones. They recommend things to each other, reflecting and tailoring to that individuality they always had. Mass media has lost its ability to focus those individuals into mass audiences at the same time as people have discovered they can do media for themselves.

So a new advertising system is needed to fit a web architecture, person-to-person, with a way higher return on attention. And that new system is emeging slowly in small pieces, loosely joined (Weinberger). Which makes a lot of people uncomfortable, even afraid, because I think they can feel it happening. Control shifting.

So who’s afraid of online advertising? Everyone already in advertising, and all the companies making their living off those people.

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