Want a guarantee? Buy a Savings Bond

Want a guarantee? Buy a Savings Bond

In a letter to the editor (‘Creatives have to earn freedom,’ Strategy, April 5/04, page 13) regarding an opinion piece by Leo Burnett copywriter Josh Rachlis (‘Finally, an ad award show that makes sense,’ Strategy, March 22/04, page 10), John Bradley opines that disgruntled creatives feel cheated because they are under the thumb of clients rather than being allowed to express themselves, artistically, as ‘modern-day Michaelangelos [sic].’

Mr. Bradley seems to have missed the point of the article he cited. Aside from it being a JOKE, Mr. Rachlis’ point should be well taken – that advertising is not science and that unsubstantiated preconceptions do not increase an ad’s effectiveness. Mr. Rachlis seems to be urging people to be open to challenging their own assumptions. Is that not what research is for? Maybe I’m crazy, but isn’t Mr. Rachlis humorously suggesting that we use research as something other than a time-wasting exercise to reinforce preconceived notions?

If we were to buy into what research told us without digging deeper or trying to understand the market or (God forbid) suggest that the testing methodology was flawed, we’d never have had Seinfeld and I wouldn’t be typing this on my tangerine iMac.

Mr. Bradley’s point seems to be that if creative people better understood the client’s world, this would translate to better product performance in the marketplace.

A politically astute perspective, but it ignores the fact that an ad is only a small part of the marketing process. It is just flat-out wrong to imply that the success of a product does not live or die with superior product distribution, package design and a host of other factors outside of advertising. To put the onus on ads to make up for other pitfalls suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of how advertising and marketing work.

If, as Mr. Bradley asserts, clients want guarantees, Canada Savings Bonds are available from their investment advisors. Short of that, we’re all, including those of us who are creative, trying to do our part.

Brian MacDonald, art director, Leo Burnett/Canada, Toronto