Mad Men

Mad Men

Jab a fork into my forehead!


Ten years ago, ad agencies thought they had hit on a new formula for success: move on from the blunt instruments of conventional advertising and embrace the laser-sharp selling tools of digital media.”

The belief that [the] marketing contract can be stripped of all its joyful subjectivity until all that remains between consumer and brand is transaction … is the fallacy of our time.”

Early in the 21st century, the digital era arrived…Big TV campaigns suddenly came to be seen as inherently inefficient and primitive. Finance directors, who had always regarded the money spent on advertising as suspicious — it seemed to work, but they couldn’t quite see how — seized the opportunity to hold ad agencies more accountable. Online, it was possible to measure exactly how many “impressions” an ad received, and (in some cases) which ones led to a sale.”

Online, you could just target the people who had bought your brand before, or were in the market for it; if you sold tents, Google’s data allowed you to target 18-year-old festival-goers. Marketers could even tailor their messages for different consumers, so that each selling claim was never less than relevant. No more wastage.”

As if that weren’t enough, social media offered new ways to talk to consumers. The buzzword was ‘engagement’, a concept that Google and Facebook began assiduously promoting.”

Every self-respecting brand outfitted itself with a Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter hashtag. Accountability, efficient targeting and free media: it was almost too good to be true. Marketing directors, cheered on by CFOs, management consultants and analysts, boasted about the increasing percentage of their budget devoted to “digital”. Ad agencies scrambled to reinvent themselves, hiring data scientists and social media specialists.

In 2010, Pepsi embarked on an audacious new marketing strategy. Foregoing its slot in the Super Bowl, America’s annual showcase for lavish TV ads, it diverted its TV budget into a social media campaign: the ‘Pepsi Refresh Project’.”

The Refresh Project accomplished everything a social media campaign is supposed to accomplish: millions of Facebook likes and thousands of new Twitter followers. But it didn’t sell Pepsi. Pepsi Cola and Diet Pepsi both lost about 5 per cent of their market shares over the course of the year — a calamitous decline. The brand returned to TV. “

Frustrated? Disbelieving? Unwilling to stand up and tell the emperor in your company he’s naked?

While you don’t see Radio in any of those quotes, we’ve been hanging onto that digital bandwagon too.

And it’s taking money from us!

Plus, it’s shifted our focus from real emotional connections with listeners and replaced it with mind-numbing second-by-second digital tracking that tends to make programmers play PPM defense rather than offense.

If the subject interests you, all these quotes are from a piece in the Financial Times called, “How the Mad Men Lost the Plot.” You can read it HERE.