Bullshit And Your Advertising Agency

Bullshit As Advertising Agency Branding

An Isreali, New Yorker, and a Mexican walk into a bar. No, this isn’t the beginning of a joke. It is a blog post about advertising agency bullshit and branding. I just happened to eat with this group last night and we talked about the definition of truth.

I have been thinking a lot about bullshit lately… I suspect like many Americans.

As a guy that grew up in New York, I think that I have both a pretty good bullshit meter and a practiced tolerance for B.S. However, I am now wondering just what the real meaning of bullshit is. Given the amount of fibbing (I am being kind) that comes out of Washington every day, I suspect that our bullshit goalposts have shifted. And, as you might suspect, I am wondering what this shift means for advertising agency marketing.

A Bullshit Definition

Here is what Merriam-Webster says:

Definition of bullshit 

1: informal, usually vulgar: to talk foolishly, boastfully, or idly

2: informalusually vulgarto engage in a discursive discussion

3: informalusually vulgarto talk nonsense to especially with the intention of deceiving or misleading

And, just for the hell of it, a definition of a lie:

Definition of lie 

1to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive

2to create a false or misleading impression

Being Remarkable

I talk a lot to my advertising agency marketing clients about how they can become remarkable – or, just perceived as being remarkable. This means positioning the agency and its communications messaging to stand out from the pack. To give an ADHD-type client prospect the information they need to make a decision to make contact. Quickly.

Clearly, one way to do this is to make sure that any of your early contacts, via your website, social media or account based marketing, understand that you are great. A path, that channels the boxer Muhamid Ali, would be to say, “I am the greatest”. It worked for Ali. But, could you support this statement in the way that he did? He was a kick-ass competitor, are you?

I imagine that most advertising agencies can find the words to help them stand out. In most cases, this simply means having being “remarkable” be a serious objective. There is an art to this. In their heyday, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising told their clients that “Nothing is impossible”. A bold statement, an attitude, that got prospects thinking hard about having that initial conversation.

Is Your Advertising Agency Remarkable?

So, what can you say that drives interest and sells in your remarkableness — but isn’t total bullshit?



One Comment

  1. Preston Bealle
    | Permalink

    There is a school of thought and behavior, and I am not at all part of it, where exaggeration and “overclaiming” is a normal and effective strategy to be used almost daily. You see it in NY. Overpromise, and then attempt to overdeliver, a la Joe Namath’s “guarantee” to win the Super Bowl as a massive underdog. Some people think Trump’s consistent lying is a smartly calculated strategy to throw people off, which creates chaos and uncertainty and resultantly provides him the upper hand. No way this works in the client/agency relationship, where breach of trust gets you fired. In agency new business pitches, I was for aggressive claims up front, to stand out. If you don’t excite, you don’t win. The key is to know that you really have a shot at what you’re claiming. Then it’s not lying. It’s setting the bar high. As you say above, “there is an art to this.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.