๐Ÿ’Ž On the puzzling fact that only so few ad agency staff are over 50 (unlike other creative industries)

We’ll start with the Nobel Prize. There is only one Nobel Prize in a creative field. It is the prize for Literature. It went to Kazuo Ishiguro who is 64.

The Pulitzer Prize is awarded in several creative fields. The Pulitzer for Drama went to Lynn Nottage who is 54. The Pulitzer for History went to Heather Ann Thompson, age 55. The Pulitzer for Poetry went to Tyehimba Jess, age 53.

Next we move to television. The Emmy for Best Drama Series went to The Handmaid’s Tale. The novel was written by Margaret Atwood who was 79 and was creative consultant on the show. The Best Comedy Series went to Veep, executive produced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 57. She also won for Best Actress. Best Limited Series went to Big Little Lies created by David E Kelley, 62. The Best Supporting Actress was Ann Dowd, 62. Best Supporting Actor was John Lithgow, 73. Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series went to Alec Baldwin, 60.

So, let’s recap. People over 50 are creative enough to dominate in Nobels, Pulitzers, Oscars, and Emmys but are not creative enough to write a fucking banner ad. I guarantee you, not one of these brilliantly talented people could get a job in an ad agency today. Not one.

Excerpt from: Advertising for Skeptics by Bob Hoffman

๐Ÿ’Ž Drowning in maths and starving for idea (data is not enough)

  • Do you think Coke has data that Pepsi doesn’t have?
  • Do you think McDonald’s has data that Burger King doesn’t have?
  • Do you think Ford has data that Chevy doesn’t have?

Here’s my point – just about the same data is available to just about everyone who wants it. And if you don’t have it, with about two clicks of a mouse you can buy it.

It’s not the data that makes the difference, it’s what you do with it.

Give a mediocre person or company all the data in the world and they’ll come up with garbage. Give a brilliant person or company one critical fact and they’ll build you an industry.

Hundreds of physicists had the same data as Einstein. But Einstein had something they didn’t – the creative brilliance to formulate a vision of what the data meant.

The advertising industry – whose only important asset is ideas โ€“ has learned nothing from this. We keep heading in the wrong direction. We keep bulking up everything in our arsenal except our creative resources. Then we take the people who are supposed to be our idea people and give them till 3 o’clock to do a banner.

Sure, we need people who are tech-savvy and analytical. But more than anything, we need some brains-in-a-bottle who have no responsibility other than to sit in a corner and feed us crazy ideas. We keep looking to โ€œtransformโ€ our industry but ignore the one transformation that would kill.

Excerpt from: Advertising for Skeptics by Bob Hoffman

๐Ÿ’Ž On the importance of everyone being a salesperson (you too)

I don’t want to be a salesman. I want to be an artist. I know it’s not easy, but it’s what I want.

If I can’t be an artist, at least I want to be helpful. I want to change things. I’ve seen the damage that crass consumerism can do. I don’t want to be a peddler. I am nobler than that.

You know what I mean, right? You agree, right

Well, here’s the thing. If you’re in advertising, you’re a salesman.

It doesn’t matter what you think you are or what you want to be. You’re a salesman. I don’t like it either.

One of the problems advertising has always faced is that there are a lot of people in business who don’t want to be salespeople.

Excerpt from: Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey by Bob Hoffman

๐Ÿ’Ž On the power of being specific in ads (Apple and the iPod)

My favorite example of the power of specificity was Apple’s introduction of the iPod. They didn’t give it the vanilla, global “World Class MP3 Player” treatment. They said “1,000 Songs In Your Pocket.” They were specific. They talked about the virtues of the product, not wooly melodramatic horseshit.

My direction to the creative teams who worked for me was always the same – be specific. Today the objective is to ignore the specific and “ladder up” the benefit.

Excerpt from: 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising: The strange world of advertising in 101 delicious bite-size pieces by Bob Hoffman

๐Ÿ’Ž On advertising and the attitude problem (product over brand)

โ€œWe donโ€™t get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product.โ€ Bob Hoffman.

Excerpt from: How To Make Better Advertising And Advertising Betterย byย Vicย Polinghorneย andย Andyย Palmer

๐Ÿ’Ž On the parallels between commerce and sex (heavy users are promiscuous)

Back in high school there were people who were โ€œheavy usersโ€ of sex. Remember them?

They often had one characteristic in common โ€” they were promiscuous.

They didnโ€™t just have lots of sex with one person. As we used to say, they โ€œgot around.โ€

The world of commerce is like that, too. Heavy users in a category tend to be promiscuous. They tend to try lots of different brands in a category. They get around.

In his book How Brands Grow, Prof. Byron Sharp gives a good example of this. Someone who is a heavy user in the fast food category might go to McDonaldโ€™s 4 out of 10 times; Subway 2.5 in 10; Wendyโ€™s 1.5 in 10; Taco Bell 1 in 10…etc.

Excerpt from: Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey by Bob Hoffman