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Do Ads Insult Your Intelligence?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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There are many opinions about how good advertising is done. It's true; different audiences have different tastes, so if the advertising is going to cater to its targeted audience, we are going to see a wide variety of messaging. One fact remains: There is more "bad" advertising out there than good advertising.

Brand Republic and Marketing Magazine covered the WhatsApp founders' cynical view of advertising. They believe that not only does advertising insult the intelligence of the consumer, but it builds an unhealthy environment for engineers in the brand's organization. It turns the user into the product. The WhatsApp founders build this "holier than thou" persona that they can charge people directly and not worry about having to sell ads because the product is worth it. Perhaps their 20+ years at Yahoo have made them turn against the world of advertising. Everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Likewise, we agree with part of their opinion.

Advertising does need to become a little smarter. We too are tired of the excessive strategies based on our primal desires of sex, and the increasingly unnecessary "shock and awe" ads. They bring attention to the product or service, but they do nothing to sell. These ads do not engage or connect. Many people don't even remember what the brand was. They just remember seeing boobs or being grossed out; hopefully not in the same spot. 

We do disagree with the implied notion that brands that are supported by advertising means that their product or service is inferior to brands not supported by advertising. That misguided reasoning is what gets many brands in trouble. Many companies use advertising to keep the price of its good or service low for the customer; if the customer was to pay full price, it wouldn't be possible for the customer to afford. As we talked about before, advertising creates that bargain — it will subsidize the brand and in exchange, the advertiser gets to "meet" its customer.

It's true that the bargain — in some cases — may have gotten out of line, but overall, it works. Plus, with WhatsApp costing $0.99/year, while Yahoo, Google, and most of the services they provide are free, comparing services and scale would be grossly inappropriate.

We understand that the advertising landscape has turned from building relationships and providing information to pushing product and advocating consumerism. We're not saying that the shift is good, either. But to say that advertising doesn't have a place amongst high-quality products is not factual, and nothing but pure opinion.


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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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