when are not-that-bad ads actually good ads?

There’s been a lot of fuss on ad-industry-outside-the-M25-magazine The Drum’s website this week about the latest ad from Go Outdoors.  They’ve given it their Marketing Weak award, which “highlights an advert for its sheer uselessness”.

In the comments below the piece, opinion is divided between those who think an un-creative ad should never grace the ad breaks and those pointing out Go Outdoor’s rather healthy ROIs from their un-creative campaigns.

Over the years, up here in The Regions, the majority of the campaigns I’ve worked on have been hampered by some combination of low-budget, inflexible client, inexperienced client, too many layers of client decision making, tight timescale, over-regulation, and under-par agency creative or account handling.  Sometimes the fact that anything got out of the door on time at all was a near miracle.

When you’re hampered by some/all of the above and need to somehow crowbar in the latest sale message as well there’s bound to be some creative sacrifice.  The kind of campaigns I work on don’t result in yellow pencils or Clios.  But I make sure that they’re creatively the best they could be, given the circumstances.  And they tend to have very healthy ROIs.

I think the role of communication is sharply splitting into two – very creative awareness and brand building for big brands that need national recognition (sometimes only a creative groundbreaker in the X Factor break, a 48 sheet campaign and a funky gamified website will do) and more modest tactical and/or targeted activity for brands with marketing budgets that don’t run to mid seven figures.

I don’t mind that I’ll probably never have a truly, award-winningly creative and instantly well-known campaign in my portfolio.  Or that I’m lacking an IPA effectiveness award since I haven’t got a spare £2k down the back of the sofa to enter them.  I’ve got some very pleasing stats and sales figures instead – and that’s what makes clients (and ultimately their agencies) happy.

One thought on “when are not-that-bad ads actually good ads?

  1. It’s a tricky one.
    I think we should always be trying to push clients to the best possible place, given that creativity sells, and emotional connections are good, and so on and so on. But sometimes there is only so much you can do without burning up 2000 hours of agency time in order to slightly improve an ad that is still going to be much the same as before.

    We should judge each case on its own merits and as long as we do the best that we possibly can for our clients strategically, creatively and relationship wise, we should be happy.

    I want to be part of great and memorable work, but that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of the terrible ads that I helped to make not bad.

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