Why is there so much advertising garbage out there?

14 Nov

huge garbage dump

Everyone can agree that a good ad is good for business. People pay attention to a good ad. I think most business owners and managers know this too.

On the other hand, a bad ad is either ignored or dismissed.

So why is there so much bad advertising out there?

Apparently you will be exposed to between 300 and 1,000 advertising messages today. How many will you remember? 1? 2?

So advertisers are looking at a success rate of about .05%. Not much of an industry average. Imagine if other professions were pitching those numbers. How long before lawyers and accountants were being chased through the woods by angry villagers with pitchforks? Seriously.

I have three questions today: Who writes this stuff? Who approves it? Why are they content to fail?

Here are the other consequences of bad advertising:

  • It costs the same as effective advertising, but it doesn’t make you any money.
  • It says your brand is boring/forgettable.
  • It never generates buzz or social share, except in the most derisive ways.
  • It doesn’t attract superstar staff to your business.
  • You can’t talk about it at parties. (“Did you see my latest TV ad for our complete lineup of products and services? The press have been all over me!)
  • It doesn’t get press.

The Brand Interventionist Recommends

Companies that make bad advertising should start making good advertising. It takes 3 things:

  • Commonsense
  • Business sense
  • Decent ad creators

And hey, it’s good for the environment!


If you’d like a free assessment of whether your advertising is any good, drop me a line at brandinterventionist@gmail.com

(Dump photo by Dennis Finley for National Geographic)



6 Responses to “Why is there so much advertising garbage out there?”

  1. Lynne DeCew November 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Nice one, Doug. Though it seems a lot of us (including you) have been saying much the same thing for many, many years. Too bad it has yet to sink in with most advertisers.

    • Doug Brown November 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      Lynne, all we can do is keep on saying it over and over and over until the advertisers get old and retire. Then new advertisers come along and we keep saying it over and over and over to them. Until they retire. 🙂

  2. dongrgic November 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    I like your post Doug. I agree with you that most advertising is crap. The quesstion is… how do you get through all that clutter and get noticed? That I find is the hardest to do because of the shear volume of noise.

    • Doug Brown November 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

      I think the answer is to be just as inventive with your choice of media as you are with your concepts. People tend to avoid ads when they see them coming. Then be simple, clear, compelling and impossibly cool or weird or smart. Most importantly, don’t tell your audience how great your thing is – show them!
      Advertising people like to create ads that get noticed, we just need our clients to understand that it’s the right way to go. Thanks for the comment Don!

      • dongrgic November 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

        Thanks Doug. great advice.


  1. A risky strategy for success « Brand Intervention - November 21, 2012

    […] contacted me regarding my recent post about bad advertising to suggest that most bad advertising is merely conservative. Just as there […]

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