Saturday, June 14, 2008

Is there any point to great 'advertising' if the product is flawed/suspect/crap?

In this post on Scamp about Net10's 'evil' campaign - featuring firstly that clip of the mobile phone in the microwave and then the full on cartoon tv spots - there was much debate about the whys and wherefores of the ad idea and execution but, for me, it only gets going when commenter Alan Wolk aka tangerinetoad wades in with this nugget.

'I'd like to suggest, as an experiment, that all of you who like this commercial and/or campaign do what the average consumer will do upon seeing it, which is to go over to Google and enter this phrase:

net10 phone service reviews

Then click on the first couple of results. Including the one from

You'll quickly see why the serious problem with these ads, and why, given the online comments about Net10s customer service (or lack thereof) they probably have a net negative effect.'

The response from other comments was along the lines of 'what can the agency do if the product is broken? we just do the advertising?'

This approach to advertising has had it. Finished.

It's basic insight stuff. Anyone can now search for real reviews and get a picture of the reality of the product. The agency should do this first then review the strategy to address real perceptions from real customers (or ex-customers).

This is not brain surgery.

But that might interfere with the making of smartypants ads to win industry back-slapping awards. Which is sadly often the case.

Don't get me wrong, the 'ads' are great - just for the wrong product it would seem.
And thats where it all falls over.


Alan Wolk said...

Eaon: Thanks for the shout-out.

I was pretty amazed by the reaction myself.

Back when I worked at Anderson & Lembke, Steve Trygg always used to say "you can be the architect or you can be the contractor... and as an agency, you always want to be the architect."

That makes sense, yet a number of the responders took the attitude of "we just make the ads, don't look at us if the product sucks."

Equally as baffling was the assumption that a campaign based on something that was true would have to be bad and uncreative. As if the two were somehow related. And I say baffling, because almost all great campaigns are based on something true about the product... starting with the VW work back in the 1960s.

But mostly the comments speak to me of the need we have to take control of the process, to be more to clients than just the people who make the ads.

Because those people are easily replaced.

Anonymous said...

It's a massive frustration when as an agency you continually challenge the client on the fact that there are massive issues / flaws with the product/service they're offering, and the client's viewpoint is 'well we're marketeers, we can't control the product'.

As an agency bod, I absolutely concur with the Bill Bernbach view that there's nothing like a bad product to kill good advertising.....but often falls on deaf ears when the client even acknowledges the flaws in their product or service, but issues a three-line whip that they want to carry on regardless....


Eaon Pritchard said...

@katy and @alan
thanks for your view.
we've got a movement growing here.