Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sales Genie

Critiques of the ads for the Academy Awards, TV’s second biggest event, are coming out and they remind me of something interesting about the Super Bowl ads.

Do you remember the ad for On February 6, ran this headline: “ Flubs Big Chance, Lands Worst Super Bowl Spot.” In its first outing as a Super Bowl advertiser, the article states, landed the unfortunate position as the most unpopular Super Bowl ad, according to a USA Today national poll.

The very next day, the headline read, “'s Unpopular Ad Generates Mega Leads.” Surprise, surprise. The “worst Super Bowl ad” pulled in a boat load of registrations for new prospects, more than 10,000, or so the advertiser claimed.

“The success of the spot in terms of generating leads”, the article continues, “is perhaps a testament to the fact that what is ‘successful’ in the eyes of consumers is not necessarily the same for marketers.”

We’ve talked about how at the turn of the century – not this past one, but the one before it, i.e. 1900 -- the head of one of the largest ad agencies of the time, Albert Lasker, was eager to better understand advertising. What was it? What was the definition of advertising? He desperately wanted to know. His answer came in the Spring in 1904 when a man by the name of John E. Kennedy came and told him: Advertising was salesmanship in print.

This definition of advertising has stood the test of time, even though it predates radio and tv, not to mention the internet and everything else that’s coming into play. So, now it’s a new century and many things have changed. What about our understanding of the definition of advertising? Has that changed, too? Should it change?

Over the next few posts, I’d like to explore this topic with you. I have some ideas to share with you, of course, but I’m also interested in your ideas. So, please, drop me a line either here or directly to me and tell me: what is the definition of advertising in the 21st century?

BTW, in case you didn’t hear the news, I recently joined up with my former strategic partner, Media First International. You can reach me there at

Look forward to hearing from you soon!

Sources and additional reading:, 2/6/07 and 2/7/07

See the ad here.