OPINION: Two things happened this week that have turned my frustration with South Africa’s advertising into terminal disdain, says Chris Moerdyk.
The first was the treatment by the ad industry’s body of journalist and industry commentator Tony Koenderman.
The second was the utterly stupid advertisement by BIC that was supposed to celebrate Women’s Day but which backfired quite spectacularly. (The payoff line, “Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss” aroused the ire of just about everyone who saw it and made news in everything from The Guardian and CNN to industry sites such as MediaPost and MuMBrella.)
The insult handed out by the Association for Communication and Advertising (ACA) to veteran commentator, Tony Koenderman, was nothing short of childish, churlish and insulting.
But it was entirely unsurprising.
The advertising industry has always had particularly limp-wristed representation aimed more at protecting the turf of some of the big bully players than actually doing anything to promote the interests of the industry.
Koenderman has done more to advance the interests of the advertising industry to corporate South Africa in the past few decades than anyone can imagine. His weekly industry perspectives and extremely popular annual reviews and awards did more to promote advertising than all the efforts of the ACA and the Loerie Awards put together.
His was an independent voice of reason in an industry continually dragged down by a minority of petulant prima donnas and a handful of egos all the size of Canada.
Once again, through their actions, the ACA has shown a lack of backbone.
Just like a few weeks ago when it pitifully begged the media industry to try and save the ailing Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in spite of the damage caused by this misguided body on the advertising and media industries.
The ad industry needs to get off its self-centred backside and start having a look at these two institutions that supposedly represent their interests. Otherwise, advertising agencies, particularly, will find that their already questionable relevance in the greater scheme of marketing things will deteriorate even more.
It needs to ask why in spite of promises of action to promote the industry over the past three decades nothing has actually happened. Absolutely nothing.
And also this week, the BIC fiasco was a classic example of how some brand managers and their ad agencies have completely lost touch with the reality of the modern marketplace.
It demonstrated an all too common dependency among brand managers and agencies, who clearly spend very little time trying to understand their markets, to just go gung-ho like a bull at a gate with knee-jerk big ideas without considering the consequences.
Some even argue that they do these things on purpose and bank on appealing to the greater section of their market at the expense of pissing off minorities.
Well, in this day and age of massive competition and pressure on advertising ROI, the objective of every brand should be to strive as far as possible to actually be all things to all men.
My audits into advertising strategies and expenditure reveal a massive wastage – between 25% and 35%. In the case of BIC I am quite sure that the budget wastage on their Women’s Day campaign would be 85% plus.
I find it quite remarkable that company CEOs and financial directors continue to allow their marketing and advertising people to keep getting away with such an incredible waste of time and money.
Follow Chris Moerdyk on Twittter @chrismoerdyk
* Opinions expressed in posts published on The Media Online are not necessarily those of Wag the Dog Publishers or the editor but contribute to the diversity of voices in South Africa.