Magazine article Marketing

The Notion of Ad Wastage Is Just Meaningless Pap

Magazine article Marketing

The Notion of Ad Wastage Is Just Meaningless Pap

Article excerpt

It's driving me bonkers. For at least 30 years people have been patiently explaining that it's a daffy statement, and that only daffy dimwits would ever utter it, but it still gets quoted incessantly - and here I am, still arguing about it. It's immortal, invincible, indestructible.

Nobody knows who first quipped: "I know half my advertising is wasted, but I've no means of knowing which half". In Britain it is ascribed to Lord Leverhulme, in the USA it has been attributed to both Henry Ford and to the store magnate Sam Wanamaker. Personally, I don't think anybody first said it, it simply materialised, like the universe, out of nothing: opaque, sludgy, nothing.

What on earth could it mean? That half of all the commercials transmitted have no effect, while the other half do the business? That half the people who see each ad ignore it while the other half reach for their pocketbook? That the first 15 seconds of every commercial are dud, but the second 15 seconds are real goers? Or maybe it is every alternate second, or every alternate nanosecond? What is this gibberish I'm writing?

And why pick on advertising? Why has nobody ever wittily aphorised: 'I know half the legal fees I pay are wasted but I've no means of knowing which half'? And what about half the market research you carry out? And half the documents you read? And half the product development that's carried out? Or half the sales calls that are made?

Now we're getting somewhere. Salesmen rarely, if ever, know for sure, beforehand, whether or not the punter will buy. …

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