David Ogilvy quote:
“If you spend your advertising budget entertaining the consumer, you’re a bloody fool. Housewives don’t buy a new detergent because the manufacturer told a joke on television last night. They buy the new detergent because it promises a benefit.”
It's fair enough to criticise agencies for claiming a category generic, 'creativity', in a way that fails to differentiate their offering and is arguably unsubstantiated by their output. Creativity is a vague and subjective term. We would never suggest to anyone that they should work with us or for us because we're 'more creative'. It would indeed be meaningless and unprovable.
And I agree wholeheartedly with the continuing relevance of David Ogilvy's comments about sponsored gags. But I don't think it's simple enough these days to say that our job is simply to 'promise a benefit to the housewife'. Media is more fragmented and the consumer is smarter. If there's anything that's different about the way we approach what we do it's in trying to build that 'strong and provocative relationship' between people and brands. You don't achieve that just by telling jokes - though humour can be part of it - you do it by surprising them, pleasing them, making them think, and prompting them to act.
Entertainment on its own is not enough. But in a world where it's increasingly easy for people to avoid messages that are dull, irritating or irrelevant, then it can't hurt to be entertaining. Who wants a relationship with someone boring?
Thanks to David Ogilvy & Marc Babej