Why Ads Suck

It’s the writing

For years now, I’ve thought it was just me, that I was the only one watching TV who was totally flummoxed by many of the ads I see.

Now, a new Harris study has found that television commercials leave 75% of viewers confused.


The battle is difficult enough as it is these days.

Most viewers tolerate commercials, at best. Many, if not most, zap through them, watching only shows that have been recorded so they don’t even have to see the commercials.

Those of us who do watch, for whatever reasons, must sit through ever-longer stop sets, bracketed by multiple promos.

So, on top of all those hurdles, you’re actually running a spot that confuses three quarters of those watching?!?

When I see your commercial, and I’m unclear what the point is, that’s worse than wasted money, because you’re training me to ignore whatever it is you’re trying to say.

How in the world does this happen?

Clients get bullied into believing that agencies and writers are smarter than they really are, that “artsy” always equals “brilliance” and that if they see the finished spot and don’t understand it, something must be wrong with them, rather than the writer and/or the concept.


I’m all for entertaining spots. I’m a huge believer in spots that make me feel strongly. But, first and foremost, I have to understand your message.

I have to know what it is you want me to do.

Is that too much to ask?