Archives for posts with tag: Communication


A decade ago we have a speed problem. Communication was way too slow, it took sometimes weeks for people to answer a piece of mail. That’s one of the reasons why so many businesses jumped on the online business bandwagon. Faster equaled better, more feedback and increased markt share. A dew weeks turned into an hour, now sometimes minutes.

We don’t have a speed problem anymore. For sure, no speed problem when it comes to business communication. A brand doesn’t gain much advantage responding twice as fast as in January. We were already fast 6 months ago, does it even make sense to be faster? Or, it is even humanly possible?

Fast is not scarce anymore. Fast is the new normal. Actually, too fast is the new normal. Good ideas are scarce. Well-defined strategies are scarce. Insights are scarce.

I don’t need your fast response. I’d rather you put some thought into your response and hear from you in 2 days.

fastfoods-ads-vs-reality-bigmacWe’ve all seen these images before. Advertising is about making things look desirable. However, there comes a point where reality and desire diverge, and the ad industry is really bad in recognizing that point.

That’s when we enter the world of “Butt Pad” advertising.

Apparently, there are people out there who want a shapely behind. The enhancement industry is extremely happy to offer people devices that lift, pad and shape the derriere. Here’s the problem: Once you leave the club/bar/part, the pad has to be removed. Suddenly, reality sets in and you’re stuck with what nature has blessed you with.

The majority of ads are guilty of this behavior.

They get you excited. They get you going. They make you want to take the next step by stimulating your imagination. At one point, they have to reveal the product: It’s perfectly acceptable. It’s fine.

But it’s nowhere near the hype represented in the full glory of the heavily padded presentation.

Shouldn’t we be happy with what we actually have?

Advertising is not in the business to lie to sell a product.

Good advertising communicates the truth of a product in the best possible light. It’s like going on a date: As an introvert, I wouldn’t try to be an extrovert. However, as a mediocre dresser, I would put my best food forward. Padded ads express shame in the core offering. They might give you short-term advantages, look good in the limelight, but in the end brand are eroding long-term customer faith in brand, favoring a cheap sale.

My question is, when will we start being happy with what we actually have? Advertising shouldn’t need to lie to sell a product. The best ads represent the truth of a product in the best possible light. But padded ads only express shame in the core offering. They may look good in a skirt and top, but you are eroding long term customer faith in you, in favor of a cheap sale.

What to do?

If you’re not comfortable in your skin, you have bigger problems than the shape of your derriere. If you’re not proud of your product, you have bigger problems than just your advertising strategy.

Explore and determine what you love about yourself and build a wardrobe of communication points around that. Be proud of who you are. Hold your head high. Be proud. Most importantly, deliver on your strengths rather than hiding your perceived weakness behind a fake reality show you can never live up to.


This speech is 39 years old. It  was given by Jermy Bullmore, CD at JWT London to Kraft executives. It’s as relevant as ever:

“Language itself is never completely explicit. Words have suggestive, evocative powers; but at the same time they are merely stepping-stones for thought. The artist rules his subjects by turning them into accomplices.

And that seems to me as good as a definition of the role of the creative man in advertising as I’ve ever read. We have to try to rule our subjects by turning them into accomplices; because, if they aren’t accomplices, they may well turn out to be enemies.

Let me now summarize where I think I’ve got to so far, before going on to illustrate the thesis with examples of advertising.

– Many people – our consumers – find much advertising irritating: and if anything, this trend is on the increaser. Some of this irritation is undoubtedly caused by the weight of advertising, by the intensity of advertising, by repetition and by the irrelevance of certain groups of products to certain groups of people. (…)

– But some, at least, of this irritation springs from advertisements which people describe as being an “insult to their intelligence”.

– What this particular phrase seems to mean is not simply talking down to people, or hectoring people. It means that the ‘sender’ has an inadequate understanding of the communication process in general and the role of the receiver in particular.

– The receiver is not passive: he is active. He will contribute, complete, modify, reject, select or repudiate: whether we like it or not. He doesn’t absorb messages: he responds to stimuli. He draws his own conclusions.

– If we attempt to deny him the chance to contribute, we run the risk not only of failing to achieve satisfactory communication, but of irritating him a great deal into the bargain.”

Isn’t it fascinating to see that we haven’t made that much progress in almost 40 years? The majority of advertisers are still yelling. The fragmentation of communication channels should lead to a golden age of storytelling. Let’s hope so.

Do yourself and read the whole speech. It’s fantastic.

Unless you advertise this abomination


Image: Courtesy of MusicPhilosophy

This post was featured a few days ago at my weekly column at Jack Myers’ MediaBizBloggers.

When people were consumers, brands lived in this exclusive universe of commerce and communication meant to sell products through emotions with one end goal: make money. Lots of it.

People are not consumers anymore. This is particularly true when people are online. We have transformed into citizen activists, journalists, lawless pirates, producers, protagonist and, more often than not, curmudgeons. People want much more from a brand than just a good offer, relieving them from the tyranny of too many choices or some fancy lines and images.

People will vote with their wallet for things they believe in rather than just buying stuff. Marketing constructs such as brand image are meaningless in a world where people expect brands to “do” rather than show, sell, spin stories nobody believes in anymore.

Successful brands will become social movements, fully committed to a cause. They will connect with people by either sharing a passion or fighting a common enemy. Brands have to come down from their Ivory Tower of branding and stand shoulder to shoulder with people sharing their passion, and helping each other to co-create and collaborate. A brand that shares my passion and is committed to a cause (We’re talking real dollars here…) will be seen as credible, committed and a real change agent.

Ultimately, we have to redefine the nature of commerce. Profits will continue to be important. Brands that define themselves solely through Wall Street results will not survive. The pursuit of a higher good than just selling stuff will become the admission fee into people’s mind.

We used to look at government programs to better the world, improve our surroundings. The stranglehold of debt will severely reduce opportunities for government institutions to be a change agent. Brands need to step up and become a cultural change agent. They have the monetary power, they have a better organizational structure than any government institution and they understand the power of democracy better than anybody else: Their constituents vote with their wallet not because of some ideology, family history or flawed loyalty.

There’s nothing wrong with making money. But making meaning is so much more powerful.