Cant Sell Wont Sell: Advertising, politics and culture wars. Why adland has stopped selling and started saving the world By Steve Harrison


On how purpose hunting made marketing in UK/US forget their actual purpose of effective selling and helped alienate the people it was supposed to reach and engage. A great read even if you don't work in marketing. 0957151519 I recently read a document that was recommended via one of the world's biggest and most influential (advertising) planning communities. It was called the Visibility Brief and has been produced by a well-established US agency. The brief is described as a bias firewall to be used in the creation of more representative cultural goods.

Using the search function, I looked for the following words in the brief:

Objective. Sales. Growth. Creativity. Effective.

None of these words have been used at all in the 19-page document.

This experience is similar to one related by Steve Harrison in his excellent book, can't sell won't sell

Steve wondered how he could help his clients in the coming recession, and what role in general the creative industries should take to keep the economy afloat during these challenging times. In June this year, he emailed the D&AD asking for a reading list of How To books or articles - useful stuff such as Advertising on a small budget, Writing copy that Sells, Creating a website that generates sales, How to plan media, How to write a brief and generally How to go about developing effective advertising in any medium.

The only reply he got was an out of office one.

However, the D&AD subsequently posted a couple of reading lists on their website: one of #staycation reading (rather heavy), replaced by 85 assorted sources to educate yourself about BLM.

These examples are symptomatic of the way that the ad industry has lost the plot and taken its eye off the ball, the main theme of can't sell won't sell.

Reading this important book over the last couple of days, I realised that these ideas have also been at the forefront of my thinking in my day job as a strategic planner over recent months.

The ad industry has become side-tracked and distracted away from its core business. One factor behind this is that agency people - particularly managers - are becoming increasingly less divergent in the way they think, and the values and opinions they hold. A consequence is that UK TV ads are markedly more annoying and less enjoyable than they were a couple of decades ago. They're also far less likely to be funny. And it goes without saying that this has consequences for effectiveness.

With a huge recession already kicking in, now is the worst possible time for this to be happening.

I strongly recommend this book - it's highly topical, funny, sharp, credible and readable.

My only little quibble (planner alert!) is that there isn't enough here about brand-building as driving long-term revenue, profit and general prosperity as well as short-term immediate sales effects produced by advertising.

It's given me a kick in the ivory tower for when I get too up in the clouds about purpose. I do hope that advertising doesn't become a completely dirty word, and that everyone in the industry can get on with what we do best - and get back to business. 0957151519

Download ó PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB Á Steve Harrison

The advertising industry has lost interest in selling. According to the IPA, we face a crisis of effectiveness. And our politics are to blame. We're now so left-leaning, we're no longer willing to stoke capitalism's engine of growth. Instead, we've embraced a new raison d'etre: we're saving the world. But how genuine is our commitment to social justice? Who's buying our purpose-driven campaigns? And what of the angry mainstream who are alienated by the agenda we're imposing upon them? Most urgently, as businesses close and millions of families face unemployment in the post-pandemic recession, will advertising rediscover its commercial purpose and help revive the free market? Or will an out-of-touch industry double down on social purpose and drift further to the margins of British life? This is the choice we face, and it's one that adland cannot shirk. Cant Sell Wont Sell: Advertising, politics and culture wars. Why adland has stopped selling and started saving the world

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