Do you notice, people are always saying that advertising isn’t as good as it used to be, and asking what happened?

Well, I was always taught, “You’ll never make a bad idea better by good execution. And you’ll never spoil a great idea by bad execution.”

In other words, the idea is more important than the execution.

Put simply, a good idea badly executed is better than a bad idea well executed.

Or, as they used to say, “You can’t polish a turd.”

Doesn’t that attitude sound old fashioned now?

When everything is about execution.

And when execution is way more important than idea.

Years back Mike Greenlees (then CEO at GGT) told me it was heading this way.

He said that, in the future, clients would be much more willing to spend massive amounts of money executing a mediocre script.

Rather than shoot a high profile, controversial script.

A high profile script is potentially risky.

A low profile script isn’t.

So, if you wanted to do advertising that your peers admired, it was much safer, from a client’s position, to spend a fortune on a huge production to hide the fact that you had a mundane script.

And that’s what happened.

Don’t say anything.

But say it in a very expensive way.

Money became plentiful.

There was no need to for advertisers fight for it.

Consumers had plenty to spend on everything.

Everybody behaved like WAGS.

Never mind how good it is.

Is it expensive?

And, just like the economy, advertising carried on getting more and more bloated.

Let’s spend a fortune on this ad.

It doesn’t have to work hard.

We’ve got tons of money coming in.

And no one had to attack the competition.

Because consumers had lots and lots of money to spend on everything.

So no one took any risks.

Forget being confrontational and controversial.

Let’s just talk about our brand.

Let’s show how classy our brand is by much money we can spend on an ad saying nothing.

Well, that may all be about to change.

Suddenly consumers don’t have lots of money.

So neither will clients.

Suddenly everyone’s fighting for the same money.

And you’ll see how that changes things.

Advertising will have to get aggressive.

Clients won’t be able to afford fat, lazy advertising anymore.

They won’t be able to afford to make it.

And they won’t be able to afford the fact that it doesn’t work.

Now every pound will have to work like five pounds.

And, hopefully, that means a return to aggressive advertising.

Advertising that tells your consumers directly, simply, memorably why they should spend their money on your product, and not your competitors.

It’ll need to be impactful, memorable, and persuasive.

The times of being nice, and not upsetting anyone, not making waves may be over.


We may just be about to see a return to good advertising.