Advertising Hall of Fame member Sir John Hegarty got into the ad business in 1965. He says his was the first generation of advertising people who got into the business because they wanted to. Until then, he said in an interview with Ad Age publisher Rance Crain, people got into the business to pay the bills, but they really wanted to do something else – painting, writing screenplays, etc.
Along the way, Sir John learned that advertising is not a science; it is an art. Period. I share his observation that clients very badly want advertising to be a science. Of course their reason for this longing is so they can measure it in every way possible, satisfying the bean counters and non-marketing, non-creatives who make most of the decisions that control their destiny.
Another thing he said was pretty gutsy – while preoccupied with chasing the dollar, the advertising industry has lost its courage, and CMOs are not being taken seriously because the accountants set up the figures and don’t understand “the soft stuff” where all the value is. Amen, Sir John. Think about a brand from the consumer’s point of view – the “soft stuff” that you can’t measure very accurately is what matters when you talk about the value of a brand.
Look back at the breakthrough advertising of the modern era. How much of it was produced in the last decade or so? Can you name a great campaign – a truly great campaign that breaks new ground – produced in the last decade? Maybe he’s damn right.