Friday, November 21, 2008

Marketing takes intelligence. Advertising takes guts.

These are words I have written before:

[Blogging] immortalizes everyday language, holding it to an impossibly lofty standard.

And I am thinking about those words now after reading a post by Noah Brier named "When Too Much Listening Is A Bad Thing."

It's precisely those emotional comments that [the Microsoft/Jerry Seinfeld ad campaign] should have been aimed for and seemed to have succeeded at. So why did they drop it? Well, my theory is that it's because a bunch of people with blogs and such started talking about how they didn't like/didn't get the ads. Lots of people were saying that Microsoft needed to respond and listen to what the consumer was saying, but I call bullshit. In a quote for PRWeek I explained, "Other than the Super Bowl, how often do people talk about ads? Microsoft should let this play out. I think there are times to listen to everyone and there are times not to listen to everyone... The people talking about this may not be the audience for this ad. They may not be talking to early adopters." And I stand by that.

In the end I guess my point is that there are times to listen and act upon what you've heard and times to listen and respectfully ignore the feedback.

Brier is right. More than once I've prepared a marketing director for the idea that an ad (this radio spot, for example) might offend someone. But these days, a client might get more than a cranky phone call. He or she might get an angry blog post that an antsy junior marketing executive sends to an unpredictable CEO who forwards it to the whole senior management team, which immediately convenes a committee to seriously consider the matter. The next day the agency phone rings, a junior account coordinator picks up the call, and an effective, wonderful ad dies.

In Hey Whipple, Squeeze This Luke Sullivan wrote that we marketers get so tied up measuring public opinion, we forget that we have the power to shape it. The Internet appears to give us the ability to measure opinion more accurately than ever before. But it gives disproportionate weight and unprecedented permanence to isolated, impulsive rantings.

For the most part, I've been blessed with courageous, focused clients. But the weight of the written word makes even stout hearts wobbly. Sometimes the best course is to just sack up and plow on.

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