Years back, I was fascinated by all the posters along a section of Cromwell Road.

But the only time I usually saw them was when I drove to the airport to pick up relatives.

It’s a part of London that had hardly any pedestrian traffic but heavy road traffic.

The posters were all for big international companies but they didn’t seem part of any ad campaign, sometimes they were just big logos and straplines.

I couldn’t work out why they were in such an out of-the-way place.

It seemed like a waste of money, they could actually get more posters in better sites for the same money. So I asked a media guy what I was missing.

He said, “Look at the route, all those are international brands on the road from central London to Heathrow. They’re all owned by overseas companies. The point is, when the CEO flies in for some conference he’ll see the posters on his way to the hotel.”

I felt really naive, the real target wasn’t consumers, it was the client’s boss.

A lot of advertising makes more sense once you know who the real target is.

When I worked at BMP, I used to see 48-sheet posters all over central London for CDP’s clients: Heineken, Benson & Hedges, Parker Pens, Fiat cars, Walls sausages.

I asked our media director if we could buy some 48-sheet posters, he said he tried but Mike Yershon at CDP had bought them all.

Years later I found out why, those posters all ran within a mile radius of CDP’s offices.

Any client coming in for a new business pitch would get off the train at either: Kings Cross, Euston, Paddington, or Waterloo and get a taxi to CDP.

By the time they got there, they’d have seen all CDP’s ads up on posters and be convinced that CDP did a lot of famous advertising.

So the market wasn’t consumers, it was new business prospects.

In the 1980s, the centre break of News at Ten regularly featured a beautifully shot two-minute-long ad starring Hollywood stars Glenda Jackson and George Segal.

The only trouble was, after seeing it viewers couldn’t work out what product they were supposed to buy as a result of having seen it.

As someone said, “The ads aren’t selling anything, they’re just boasting”.

Consumers weren’t supposed to buy anything because the ads weren’t aimed at them.

News at Ten was the one programme that was watched by all the stockbrokers in the city.

The purpose was to make Hanson Trust seem a great investment, keep the share price up.

So the market wasn’t consumers, it was investors.

Mike Gold did a similar thing for us with LWT.

We ran a campaign of seventy 48-sheet posters for LWT’s programmes, a different poster each week.

They were really popular in adland, they won loads of awards.

What no one knew was that this wasn’t consumer advertising, it was a trade campaign.

The posters only ran outside ad agencies to convince them that LWT was doing exciting TVprogrammes so they should put their ad budgets on that channel.

The target market wasn’t consumers, it was ad agencies.

If you think carefully about most advertising you can see who the target market really is, andoften it isn’t consumers.

That’s the reason you don’t understand half of the ads on TV, they aren’t targeted at you.

They’re done to impress the judges on awards juries.

Because, if you’re a judge at Cannes, English isn’t your first language so a catchy strap-lineor verbal humour won’t work with you.

But visuals and emotion work with any nationality, so it’s obvious who the audience is.

The target market isn’t consumers, it’s an international awards jury.