Way back in 1543, a Polish astronomer named Copernicus published De revolutionises erbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres). In a nutshell, it suggested that the Sun, and not the Earth, was at the centre of the known universe. Many decades later, an Italian named Galileo picked up the idea and ran with it. The Catholic church didn’t like this idea too much, as it was in direct conflict with their beliefs.
They firmly believed that the Earth was the centre of the universe (and I’d imagine it quite a blow to one’s ego to be told otherwise). Anyway, for his trouble, Galileo was sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of his life (which happened to be 9 years).
In a blog post by Marius Donnestad, he recently wrote the following:
“Brands suffer from an inflated self-image that agencies and their research partners are only too happy to keep inflating.”
I tend to agree with Marius. Agencies have turned into ‘yes men’. Like an entourage hanging around a star, they’re only too happy to tell the client how great their brand is. This is usually driven out of a fear of losing the business. But, really, is the client paying you to give them excessive praise, or to fix their marketing problem?
After all, a client getting angry at you for telling them the truth (based on your professional expertise) is a bit like someone getting angry at their personal trainer for telling them that if they eat pies every day, they’ll get fat.
It seems the more serious we take this advertising business, the less effective it actually becomes. Yes, I know it appears foolish to be flippant when large budgets and profits are at stake. However, the less worthy and more irreverent you make your communications, the more it will resonate.
Think about the great success stories:
- A gorilla playing the drums
- Cartoon characters finding dumb ways to die
- Razor blades that are f***ing great
- Guys singing about the size of the ad that they’re in
- A plastic plate that makes fun of salad
- A fulfilment offer that sounds like people are swearing
- A chicken that will do whatever you ask
The list goes on.
The point is, lighten up. It’s only advertising. Have some fun with it, and you’ll have more success. The universe won’t grind to a halt, the sun will still rise tomorrow (unless, of course, Copernicus was wrong).