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Advertising Works When You Believe In It
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Advertising has developed a bap rap with consumers over the past decades because of its perceived intentions. The phrase "being sold to" has become derogatory; it no longer means to be persuaded to buy or act, but means being cornered and pitched at about a good or service a consumer doesn't necessarily want or need. The public sees advertising the way they see Big Business: advertising is the arm that uses its muscle to get Big Business more profit.

It's not always the case.

It's true that Corporate America has done a poor job rebuilding its reputation with Consumer America. More people have a distaste for business (and therefore advertising) because they believe that the purpose of advertising is to subsidize the purpose of business, which is to get as much money as possible with the lowest possible cost. Our free enterprise system has taken a perverse turn. According to Adam Smith, "pursuit of self-interest" no longer applies when the common good doesn't benefit. Advertising suffers too, because without being advocates for brands that support the common good, the industry sides with those who are all about the money and not the message. When we don't believe in the branding or the messaging, the creative suffers.

That's why we appreciate brands like Ben & Jerry's. Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of the Unilever-owned ice cream shop, recently had an interview with Marketing Magazine and said that brands need to focus more on the common good than the bottom line. The article has him quoted saying, "Too many businesses don't stand for anything, apart from making money."

He mentioned the minimum wage, and adding to causes for the common good.

After meditating on those words, we thought maybe that is the underlying issue for the lack of creative advertising. Not that the talent isn't there, but businesses are so worried about the bottom line, and so not worried about anything else, what other motivation do creatives have to create a message?

Not enough.

Good advertising happens when you are a part of something that you believe in. Like giving a speech, if you care about the topic, it is going to show. Like advertising, if the brand supports something that you care about, the creative is going to match.

As supporters of the Small Agency world, we realize that many cannot pick and choose brands that they want to work with. But finding brands that support the same causes you do will set your shop up to create dynamite work, and then you can build that foundation to be picky.

As businesses begin to see that supporting the common good will help the bottom line, hopefully creatives get the fire in their eyes that AdLand is dearly missing.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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