They say that children and old people speak the truth because they have less to inhibit them. But what about the rest of us who are aged somewhere in between and have jobs in advertising? Well, it’s easier to take the politically correct route and keep our opinions to ourselves. That’s why I’m so happy to see former ad guy Bob Hoffman vocalizing his disruptive views, which make our industry look like a crowd of benighted yes men, each following the other off the cliff. At Interplanetary, we subscribe to the philosophy that being truthful is always the healthiest solution, and that, as Mr. Twain said in one of our recent Tweets, “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”
Here’s Bob’s two cents. You can read it below or on MediaPost.
Bob Hoffman Skewers The Prevailing Notions That People Want Brand Experiences, Digital Is Everything And Youth Rocks
By Richard Whitman, March 1, 2016
Oh, how I love Bob Hoffman. Bob, like several other vocal critics of the ad business, has achieved that certain degree of wisdom that can only come with age and experience. Bob has been around for a quite a while, and he ran his own agency for 22 years.
Bob has been quite vocal about the current failings of the ad business and his latest critique is squarely aimed at those in the industry who love to pontificate on the notion that people actually love brands and want to have an actual relationship with a brand, that digital trumps all and that anyone over 50 is useless.
Dispelling this idiocy, Bob spoke Tuesday at the Shift 2016 conference in London and said:
“Creating a strong brand should be every marketer’s primary objective and the highest role of advertising is to create a strong brand. But our industry has taken these truths and twisted them into silly fantasies. There’s a widespread belief in our business that consumers are in love with brands. That consumers want to have brand experiences and brand relationships and be personally engaged with brands and read branded storytelling.”
And lest you think Bob is crazy and people have nothing better to do that get all cuddly with brands, he continues, saying: “People have shaky jobs and unstable families, they have illnesses, they have debts, they have washing machines that don’t work, they have funny things growing on their backs, they have kids that are unhappy, they have a lot of things to care deeply about. It’s very unwise to believe that they care deeply about our batteries, our wet wipes and our chicken strips.”
Oh and this is just one of three “major delusions” he claims have beset the ad industry of late. The other two include over-reliance on digital and the ad industry’s perpetual focus on youth. Of the former, he said: “As a result of all our reliance on digital technology, we have made a very incautious leap of logic. We have assumed that digital technology has made irrelevant everything that came before it. For over 10 years, we’ve been hearing about how a digital revolution was going to change everything. It was going to kill advertising, it was going to kill traditional marketing, it was going to kill everything in its path. Just walk outside, it’s everywhere. It’s on every burger, every bus, every t-shirt, every bench, every theater ticket, every square inch of the f—— planet is covered in advertising.”
And on the latter, he said: “You know all the awesome Millennials we see in car ads? In the U.S., people aged 75 to dead buy six times as many new cars as people aged 16 to 24. Do you really think it’s a good idea to avoid these people? According to Nielsen, people over 50 are the most valuable people in the history of marketing. In the U.S. they are responsible for 50% of all consumer spending. People over 50 control about 70% of the wealth of the U.S. And yet people over 50 are the target of 10% of marketing activity in the US.”
Wake up and smell the coffee, people! You’re doing it wrong!