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The word “effectiveness” is thrown around in Adland all day long. That’s fine as long as people would use the word correctly.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

When things go well, all of us take credit for the success. When things go wrong, we tend to assign blame to anyone in sight: product, economy, sales process, packaging, your mother.

Just look at the list of 2011 Effie awards winners: MINI Cooper, Toyota, Nissan, Old Spice, V8, Gatorade, Old Spice, Sony PlayStation, etc. Some of them had good sales in 2011, others declining sales. How can you win an Effie when your sales are declining? And why are you claiming credit for sales increases when advertising is just part of the solution? When an agency holds up that award, shouldn’t they share the stage with R&D, Product Planning, Customer Service and your mother?

Marketing and advertising do have a very important role to play in a brands success. But the way it talks itself up and the way awards and recognition in the industry only focus on  advertising’s contribution to success is a good explanation why advertising often doesn’t get the respect it should deserve.

Effectiveness is built on collaboration while we reward individualism. A good start to change this false obsession with effectiveness would be to approach this topic with an open mind rather than a delusional one. To regain the respect of brands and business partners, we need to focus more on tackling real business problems. Advertising rarely helps solving them.

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