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Does Anyone Believe in Advertising?

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I was sitting on a delayed flight recently with the friendly CFO at one of the nation’s top advertising agencies. We had both had a few drinks and covered a lot of ground about marketing and trends. Finally, I asked him a simple question:

“Do you think most people believe the claims they hear in advertising?”

He didn’t pause for a second:

“No,” he said with a smile.

Talk then turned to his company’s “customer engagement agency” business. It turns out that this is a fancy term for helping clients manage their social media and interactive activities. “The margins are brutally low,” he said. He was such a nice guy, I would never had violated seatmate courtesy with a provocative statement. But I couldn’t help but think that his company’s next big problem may be the shift of more dollars away from making promises through advertising toward more efforts to keeping those promises, an area in which many ad agencies have little expertise. I wouldn’t count ad agencies out of this area of marketing, however, since agencies have shown tremendous capability to adapt to changing trends in marketing.


 

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