On the Advertising Echo Chamber

“Check out this great ad from ___.” The Adweek headline reads.

“This subtle ad from ____ is really amazing!” The Ad Age headline says.

“Wow! You’ll never believe this ad from ___.” The Drum exclaims.

Every day you can pull up any of the advertising publications and read 20-30 articles about 20-30 different amazing ads people in our industry made. And yes, they are amazing. They deserve the accolades they receive for their contributions to creativity. But, how many times are we making ads just for these headlines?

In a day where consumer attention is more difficult than ever to attain, why does it take a whole article to understand what an ad’s message is? And, if it takes me a whole article on top of seeing the ad, how do we expect a consumer to be moved to action or change their perception after seeing it? Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s creative. But, often, I don’t find myself leaving with a new perspective on the brand or product.

Increasingly, it looks like we’re making ads to look impressive to other people in the advertising industry rather than to move our clients’ businesses.

We have to break out of the advertising echo chamber.

We have to stop reading our own press clippings and recognize what our goals should be. We don’t work in a business where we get to make art for art’s sake. Advertising is art in the name of commerce. Our goal is to make beautiful things that move our clients’ business, affect change, and inspire behavior. Because of that, our work needs to be beautiful and smart but easily understood.

This responsibility needs to fall on everyone in the agency, not just creatives. In fact, strategists and planners should be leading the charge. If we are “the voice of the consumer”, why aren’t we speaking for them in these cases? From start to finish, we have to bring the consumer into the office. The customer is king. The customer is our ultimate boss, and everything we make should be in service to our customer.

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