Remember: nobody wants to read your sh*t

Just read the book “Nobody wants to read your sh*t” and it’s a timely reminder about one of the basic facts in the marketing and advertising business: nobody wants to read your ad. Nobody wants to read your website. Nobody wants to read your email.

And yet the marketing industry seems to have forgotten this fact. We see so much work that is, patently, very pleased with itself and has clearly been produced in the reality-free zone that is the hallmark of contemporary promotion.

Work is produced for other agency people to admire. For the client to show his boss. For the boss to show his wife.

We see endless numbers of me-too TV ads with smug 30-somethings with beards being oh-so-ironic.

And offering no reason a) to watch b) to buy.

These ads feature smug 30-somethings with beards because they’re produced by smug 30-somethings with beards.

And, as a result, they become simply TV wallpaper. Marketing blandness taken to the next level of virtual invisibility. A colourless mush of vapid, lifestyle-based nonsense.

So often now, clients want work that looks like somebody else’s work. Not work that stands out, that demands your attention. That would be brave and adventurous.

They want work that is cosy, familiar, well-worn and unthreatening. As challenging as your favourite old pair of slippers. Work That Looks Like Advertising.

…Not work that is effective advertising.

Of course, the good news is this: do something half decent and it leaps out at you like somebody poking you up the nostril with a red-hot poker.

So next time you’re some creative work, ask yourself “What can I do that will make this a must-read for my audience?”

Chances are you’ll come up with a proposition for your brief which is more focused than “Product X will make you happy”.

Chances are you might think “Hmmm, do I really need to show my target audience here? Actually, these people aren’t my real target audience anyway.”

Chances are you’ll write a headline message that offers a real benefit to your punters. And if you haven’t got one then you’re going to need an execution that captures your punters’ attention by its creative brilliance.

As someone once said: “If you’ve got nothing to say, sing it”.


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