Ad agencies and marketers continue to live in a parallel universe…

Research released this week by ThinkTV claimed “people working for advertising agencies are out of touch, childless, share-housing, farmers’ market-loving, workaholic gym junkies, who overestimate the impact of social media and the internet on normal Australians.”

Me thinks it’s a pretty accurate persona, to use the modern vernacular.

Of course, the consequence of the frame of reference from which agency types view the world, is how it influences their creative and media decisions in quite biased and dangerous ways.

I was on the end of this type of thinking when talking with a marketer in charge of selling “enterprise solutions” for a telco. In layman’s terms this means she flogs large phone systems to big companies through consultative selling. The reason she was asking my advice was the fact her sales were tanking and she couldn’t get leads from her digital marketing in LinkedIn and banner ads on other sites. True dear reader.

I was showing her some interactive 3D mail examples from US telcos that worked really well to generate qualified leads, particularly when supported with telephone follow-up. She stared at me bug-eyed and said “mail and telephone for B2B marketing are just not on my radar, everything’s digital these days and the agency would never go for it“.

I was taken aback, because as she spoke, I saw something flapping outside her window.

Everything’s just digital these days

The real problem with this advertising agency parallel universe is that it’s not new. The industry has lived in it for decades and not learned from its mistakes. I remember a survey in the 1980’s that demonstrated how out of touch the people who worked in advertising agencies really were.

One revelation was that agency people assumed everyone leased cars and bought their groceries on their fuel card in Shell Shops and 7/Eleven stores. Why go to Woolies?

I also had a marketing assistant at that time, who eventually became a partner in an ad agency (must have been the training). She lived in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and abjectly refused to travel west of George Street in the city. “the only time I go west is to get to the polo and then someone drives me“, she proudly exclaimed.

So here is the latest parallel universe of Adland – it goes part of the way to explaining the massive amounts of money being wasted in digital marketing channels.

The key is as follows – view the charts and weep:

  • Adland = Yellow
  • Adland’s estimate of public use = Dark blue
  • The public’s real use = Light blue

This article in yesterday’s press let the facts speak for themselves. For example, when asked to estimate how many people watch Netflix weekly, Adland said 80%. Yet apparently only 28% of “normal” people use Netflix weekly.

Gotta go now and do my weekly mentoring of young agency talent. Where’s my Tardis?


  1. Reblogged this on kfcopywriting and commented:
    One of the big dangers of NOT using direct response marketing and measuring results when using an outside agency…have to shake my head at the comment “the agency wouldn’t stand for it”!!

  2. Oh Mal… I mean Mal… My heart, or is it my head?, weeps for these uninformed junior wannabes who think they INVENTED marketing!

    OMG (as they say) it sounds just like me in my twenties….

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