December 5th, 2005 by Bob Bly
There are certain industries with inherent flaws that make them, at best, marginally effective.
Traditional book publishing, with too much product (almost 200,000 new books published each year) and returns from bookstores to publishers in the 30% to 50% range, is one of them.
I believe that the ad agency business as practiced today also has a built-in flaw that dooms the majority of it to mediocrity at best, and an outright drain on corporate productivity at worst.
Reason: despite protests to the contrary, Madison Avenue, as evidenced by national ad campaigns, has as its primary objective creativity, not sales.
Example: the Six Flags TV ad campaign with the crazy dancing old guy (rumored to be a young woman in makeup) was the talk of the ad agency world ? widely acclaimed for its humor, energy, and cleverness.
But, according to Parade magazine (8/21/05), after spending a stomach-churning $72 million on the campaign, Six Flags reported the results: no increase in attendance ? and not a drop of added revenue.
That?s a return on investment (ROI) of less than zero, putting Six Flags $72 million in the hole on this marketing boondogle.
Or do you have a different view? Maybe you think the dancing guy was worth it because it ?gained attention? or contributed to ?branding.?
Or maybe you think Six Flags is the exception, not the rule ? and Madison Avenue really, truly does care about making the cash register ring, not just winning Clio awards.
What say you?