Ad agencies and marketers continue to live in a parallel universe…


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Research released this week by ThinkTV claimed “people working for advertising agencies are out of touch, childless, share-housing, farmers’ market-loving, workaholic gym junkies, who overestimate the impact of social media and the internet on normal Australians.”

Me thinks it’s a pretty accurate persona, to use the modern vernacular.

Of course, the consequence of the frame of reference from which agency types view the world, is how it influences their creative and media decisions in quite biased and dangerous ways.

I was on the end of this type of thinking when talking with a marketer in charge of selling “enterprise solutions” for a telco. In layman’s terms this means she flogs large phone systems to big companies through consultative selling. The reason she was asking my advice was the fact her sales were tanking and she couldn’t get leads from her digital marketing in LinkedIn and banner ads on other sites. True dear reader.

I was showing her some interactive 3D mail examples from US telcos that worked really well to generate qualified leads, particularly when supported with telephone follow-up. She stared at me bug-eyed and said “mail and telephone for B2B marketing are just not on my radar, everything’s digital these days and the agency would never go for it“.

I was taken aback, because as she spoke, I saw something flapping outside her window.

Everything’s just digital these days

The real problem with this advertising agency parallel universe is that it’s not new. The industry has lived in it for decades and not learned from its mistakes. I remember a survey in the 1980’s that demonstrated how out of touch the people who worked in advertising agencies really were.

One revelation was that agency people assumed everyone leased cars and bought their groceries on their fuel card in Shell Shops and 7/Eleven stores. Why go to Woolies?

I also had a marketing assistant at that time, who eventually became a partner in an ad agency (must have been the training). She lived in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and abjectly refused to travel west of George Street in the city. “the only time I go west is to get to the polo and then someone drives me“, she proudly exclaimed.

So here is the latest parallel universe of Adland – it goes part of the way to explaining the massive amounts of money being wasted in digital marketing channels.

The key is as follows – view the charts and weep:

  • Adland = Yellow
  • Adland’s estimate of public use = Dark blue
  • The public’s real use = Light blue

This article in yesterday’s press let the facts speak for themselves. For example, when asked to estimate how many people watch Netflix weekly, Adland said 80%. Yet apparently only 28% of “normal” people use Netflix weekly.

Gotta go now and do my weekly mentoring of young agency talent. Where’s my Tardis?

What you sell and what people buy are often two different things…


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If you’ve studied any tertiary marketing course, you’re probably familiar with Theodore Levitt’s famous consumer insight about power drills.

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

Marketers and their agencies are often guilty of not understanding the reasons why people behave the way they do. They don’t take time to talk with their customers. This lack of real communication has increased in recent years alongside the growth of marketing automation. We’ve stopped talking, we’re only computing, and lost a layer of human involvement along the way.

As I’ve written before, you’ll be surprised what you learn if you just talk with your customers.

This lack of knowledge about what motivates customers was laid bare at a tourism marketing conference in New Zealand, at which I spoke some time ago. I met Jeanette Kelly – a women who has spent years working in the hospitality industry, running her own business as well as working for others. Jeanette presented a wonderful piece of research conducted by the University of Waikato.

The accommodation and marketing managers of various hotels, motels, guest houses and the like, were asked what they thought were the most important factors influencing accommodation choices. They said, in order of priority:

  1. Staffing and accommodation service
  2. Room rate
  3. Location
  4. Facilities
  5. Marketing and Sales programmes
  6. Seasonal tourism
  7. Competition from other properties
  8. Supply and demand
  9. Events taking place in the area
  10. The general state of the national economy
  11. The state of the property

Guess what the customers listed as the most important factors influencing their accommodation choices, in order of priority?

  1. Cleanliness of the room
  2. Quality of the bath towels and wash cloths
  3. Quality of staff service
  4. Friendliness of staff service
  5. Comfort of mattress and pillow
  6. Quietness of room
  7. Well maintained furnishings
  8. On-premise car parking
  9. Overall facilities
  10. Level of security

In case you’re wondering ‘room prices’ came 17th on the list of priorities for customers. And what were the marketers smoking to believe customers care about marketing and sales programmes?

More importantly, as you can see in this case, what customers want to buy and what marketers are trying to sell, are poles apart.

So take some time to really talk with your customers and understand what motivates them. You could be pleasantly surprised by what you learn. Who knows, you might find they’re looking to buy something other than what you’re selling, or even be willing to pay more?

Have to go now. My bride says she has a surprise for me. Why is she carrying a drill?


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Uber Eats and Airtasker run amazing suburban launches using…


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As you know dear reader I like to keep abreast of the latest digital disruptions and the amazing “new rules” of marketing they have introduced. How will the old rules survive?

So I thought I’d share the most recent ads that launched Airtasker and Uber Eats in my suburb. Here’s an earlier post on similar disruption technology.

The brands are obviously on to something, as they used identically shaped die-cut cards. These disruptive cards included a discount to encourage people to trial the services. Such innovation.

The Uber Eats card was in my letterbox, along with at least a dozen non-disrupting brands. So now I can use my phone to order cooked food delivered to my home – unbelievable.

While the Airtasker card was shoved in my hand at the shops – I think I was on a customer journey at the time. Let me recall – I had my backpack, water bottle, GPS map, crampons (just in case any climbing was required – who knows where a customer journey will take you?) and my sunblock. Yes, I remember now. I was on a customer journey to buy some bread when a random stuck out their hand and gave me the card.

So there you have it folks – amazing insights into the new ways of marketing by the digital disrupters. Fascinating stuff indeed.

Have to go now. Am going on a customer journey to get some milk. Where are my hiking boots and personas?

The myths and lies of the fake sharing economy…


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The headline for this post could easily have been any of the following:

“Stop all the lying you marketing bastards” OR

“Happy birthday to the sharing economy now 200,000 years old” OR

“Change hands please and describe your business accurately”

As you all know, we marketers love our buzzwords. The “sharing economy” is one of the most popular from recent times. It’s used in seminars, in articles by “thought leaders” and anywhere someone out of their depth is trying to make an impression.

To set the scene, let’s briefly review the definition of “sharing”

sharing = “use, occupy or enjoy (something) jointly with another or other


sharing = “give a portion of (something) to another or others

There is no definition of sharing in any dictionary on the planet that says sharing involves a commercial transaction, where one party charges another party for services.

The sharing economy is one of the oldest on the planet. It’s been around since the arrival of humans. I suspect cavemen (and cavewomen) shared their caves and food with people other than their family. Maybe even passed a rock among themselves to use as a tool?

All of us have shared things throughout our lives and will until we die – food, drinks, seats, newspapers, spare beds, car pooling, stationery, lawn mowers, chores and much more.

At no time in this “sharing process” do we ask for payment. The reason is simple. You cannot call it sharing if you charge for the service. Because by definition, it’s not sharing, it’s a commercial transaction. You are conducting business if you charge for services – you are not sharing.

So please, all you marketing wannabes, just tell the truth.

A Bed & Breakfast (BnB) service is a commercial business, so just putting the word “Air” in front of it doesn’t suddenly make the service free, in terms of sharing.

Airbnb is a room booking service. Uber is a taxi booking service. And both companies do their damnedest to avoid paying tax in any of the countries in which they operate, as do most of the people who deliver their services.

Airbnb actively advertises on radio for pensioners to supplement their pensions by becoming an “Airbnb host”. It offers no advice to the poor pensioners on how the extra income will affect their pensions. They may lose their pensions by becoming a host. That’s not much of a sharing, nor caring, way to do business.

Meanwhile, Uber is losing $Billions annually and is plagued by all sorts of management problems and legal action. And when you read its business strategy, (it’s not a sharing strategy) the future is about driverless cars, so where’s that leave current drivers funding its “growth”? I suppose the reason is, Uber’s sharing model, sorry I meant business model, relies on financial transactions, rather than sharing, for its survival.

So given there is absolutely no sharing involved in the fake sharing economy, maybe a correct name for this new service category could be “the make a quick buck while avoiding tax economy“?

It’s certainly more accurate. And it’s not teaching our children that lying is an acceptable business practice, so it’s much more ethical.

Have to go now. I can hear my bride calling. I think she wants to share my wallet. So I guess there is payment involved in sharing after all…

Would you encourage your children to work in marketing? I doubt it…


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Some of you may have noticed I haven’t blogged for about three months. I decided to take time out to observe the industry through rose coloured glasses and find some positive examples of advertising to share – regardless of channel. I might as well have tried to climb Mt Everest naked. Sorry for that vision folks, but that’s how difficult the task is has been.

Because when you stop for a moment and take a gander, the sight is really sad.

I’ve spent most of my life working in marketing in one way or another – as a business owner, running marketing departments, running agencies and educating executives and students. Never in my experience have I known the marketing industry to be so shonky, shoddy, dishonest, artificial, delusional, self-destructive and downright on the nose.

Why would anyone want their children to get a job in marketing? It’s become an embarrassment to say “I work in marketing”. You might as well say “have you met my parole officer?”

The growth in deplorables (to steal a recent popular word) is directly linked to the rise of the digital marketing industry and all the charlatans it has attracted. It seems they’re all drinking the same kool-aid and believing their “owned media” to use a digi-buzzword. Their mantra is one of the oldest on the planet “a sucker is born every minute” and it’s easy to chant when the suckers, sorry marketers, are hooked on FOMO and fashion.

Everywhere you turn there are examples. And it’s been getting worse every year. I produced this parody video in 2011 to promote an event, partly because like many, I couldn’t find any facts to support the outrageous claims about online usage by consumers.

Then this book was a best seller in 2012. I cannot find any similar publications claiming analogue channels to be so dishonest.

The first abuse of a marketing channel was the telephone and this was countered by government and industry with “do not call” registers. The problem with telemarketing was not so much dishonesty, rather it was the frequency of unsolicited calls into people’s homes.

The spiral to dishonesty started with email marketing. The scams, abuse of privacy, illegal use of email addresses, spreading of viruses and frequency of messaging, created so many problems that governments created anti-spam laws as well as data privacy legislation. Email continues to be abused, with most people now having a daily ritual of deleting unsolicited or irrelevant messages.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the marketing industry as we know it today…

The fake internet is growing so fast it will be one of the biggest online industries in less than a decade. Bob Hoffman, another lone but increasingly louder voice in the wilderness, has been very vocal about the fraud in the online advertising industry. In a number of articles, he has revealed that the percentage of clicks on online ads by robots, varies from 30% and up to 90%. Agencies have no way of telling how much “traffic” or “clicks” are by robots, as even the publishers themselves don’t really know. Yet marketers are charged for this fraud.

Then there is the “fake profile” industry. Software can now create social media accounts for anything connected to the internet. So your grandmother’s new fridge, or your sound system running from an app, will be hacked and a profile created using the device’s unique IP address.

The fraudsters then buy fake followers, they cost as little as $2.00 for a thousand, and create a fake following. The “profile” then publishes fake content, either stolen, or created by slaves with no subject expertise, working in Eastern Europe, the subcontinent, or South America. Ad space is then sold on these “fake profile” sites to computerised advertising networks. Marketer’s ads then appear on the sites, with the marketer being none the wiser.

As the system is fully computerised and rarely has a human eye to analyse it, the ability to scam the programmatic ad networks to create fake sites and earn automatic “fake revenue” is huge.

But the digital marketing industry seems uninterested in addressing the issue. One of the drivers behind this lack of interest is that very few marketers care. They never look at their digital analytics. It’s more important to be seen to be “digital” and mediocre, than to be using digital channels profitably. An Australian report suggested more than 60% of senior marketers didn’t bother looking at or using the analytical data their digital marketing generated. So they have no idea what works or what fails.

Media companies have now admitted they have been falsely charging for online advertising and are returning $millions to clients, rather than face messy legal action. Dentsu was the first to raise its guilty hand.

I have one client about to go to court with its global media agency because the agency refuses to use the client’s programmatic advertising account. The reason is simple. The moment the client gets access to the account they will discover how much they have been ripped-off over the terms of the contract to date. It seems the agency is hiding behind a clause in the contract that says bookings must be on its account. The media agency would rather lose the client’s business across the globe than be found guilty of fraud.

Facebook admits it has overstated video viewing by as much as 80%.

Sir Martin Sorrell has called out Google for unwittingly allowing advertisers to subsidise extremist terrorist sites with their advertising.

Proctor & Gamble, the largest media advertiser in the world is threatening to stop advertising online unless the industry starts to act honestly and ditches its self-interest. P&G has already reduced its Facebook spend because it resulted in an appalling loss of revenue and market share.

While French media agency Havas has followed suit and pulled all advertising from Google and the YouTube platform until they “deliver the standards we and our clients expect”.

An active Twitter user is someone who accesses their account once a month – and there are more inactive accounts than active ones. #whybotherwithtwitter

FYI Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn remain the major publishers that continue to refuse independent auditing of their platforms. Whereas all the major analogue publishers have always participated in independent auditing as part of providing a legitimate service to advertisers.

How did it get so bad? I suspect that one reason is the fact so many people claiming to be digital marketers know nothing about marketing and just a little bit about binary coding. They have no respect for marketing, dismissing it as “just part of the process” for anyone who can use a keyboard. Or they’ve read a definitive guide and so have become a definitive expert.

I was in a meeting with a digital marketing manager who stated with authority; “a brand is just the logo taken to the next level“. But he did it with such conviction the juniors in the room took notes – I just shook my head and asked for more coffee, as it was the only drug available.

Creative thinking is not valued. Instead, you just need to Google “world’s best example of…” and then copy the ideas for your client or your brand. The result of following the “God called Google” has been a devaluing of creative talent.

And while BIG DATA is the latest trend, most marketers and their media agencies don’t analyse data. They don’t know what works and what doesn’t. They talk about data and even produce spreadsheets, but they don’t study the data to gain knowledge. Instead, they worship at the social altar of “likes” and “followers” and some nebulous term called “engagement”.

The digital channels allow you to predict the future, so you can make more money, or earn the same amount for a lower spend. They put more knowledge in the palm of marketer’s hands than any other channel. Yet nobody seems to care.

Though here’s what some major advertisers say about social channels after analysing them:

Unilever has said its social media results are about 50% as good as traditional POS advertising and other retail promotions. While Coca Cola ran its usual metrics through its social media and saw no difference in sales as a result of social content. Westfield shopping centres stopped social media advertising, as results and research revealed its customers preferred printed catalogues.

As Bob Hoffman published recently: in a study by the American Marketing Association, Deloitte and Duke University, more than 88% of marketers surveyed said they could find no measurable impact from social media marketing. While Forrester Research reported that only 0.07% of one major brand’s Facebook followers ever engage with one of its posts.

It can probably be best summed up by Coca Cola’s Head of Global Marketing, Marcos de Quinto who said; “Social media is the strategy for those who don’t have a… digital strategy.

Yet in a recent industry debate with Mark Ritson about social media, Adam Ferrier, one of Australia’s brightest advertising talents, said “…These other two businesses – Uber and Airbnb – would not exist without social media.” I can only assume he said it because he was forced to support his side of the debate, as nothing could be further from the truth.

Uber has mainly used traditional public relations in mainstream media, plus social media to create awareness. Though as revealed here, Uber’s secret new business tool is good old-fashioned print. While Airbnb is a major user of TV advertising, email, network marketing, print and most recently talk-back radio targeting pensioners. The radio ads use pensioners to encourage other pensioners to top up their pensions by becoming an Airbnb host – strangely it says nothing about tax implications? Just as Airbnb pays no tax in our country.

So Uber and Airbnb cannot exist without analogue channels. Social channels are just a sideshow in the scheme of things.

Rumour has it, Unilever is removing the term “digital” from all marketing job titles, as they’ve finally woken up to the fact the job functions are about marketing, not about channels. After all, nobody ever called themselves a “Male Urinal Advertising Manager” just because they placed ads in the specialist channel of troughs in public and commercial toilets used by men. If you’re female and confused, ask a male colleague.

Smart marketers are realising that just sticking solely with digital marketing channels is more often than not, a mistake. For the best results, you need to promote across numerous proven channels, and run tests to determine the best ROI – just as marketers did prior to the internet.

Have to go now and prepare to teach young university marketing students. Might recommend they look for an internship at Long Bay Correctional Centre if they want a successful career…


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Today’s throwback is a 2004 interview with Bird, Auld & Kotler…

In 2004 I ran a series of one-day seminars about online marketing with Drayton Bird, in Oz and NZ. Before the NZ leg of the tour, we were interviewed along with that doyen of marketing, Philip Kotler, by NZ Marketing magazine. Phil’s textbook was compulsory reading when I did my first marketing degree.


If only we’d realised then, what we were really doing in the new-age digital world, imagine how successful we could have become?

According to the cyber-hustlers, by being interviewed in a marketing magazine, we were practicing influencer marketing, by delivering thought leadership as part of our content marketing strategy. If only we’d known – we could have become Linkfluencers! The cyber-hustlers have so much to teach us.

Here’s a PDF of the interviews.

Real estate agent fires art director for not dressing inappropriately…


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You cannot make this stuff up, so I’ll tell it to you straight.

One industry in which I’ve done lots of marketing education in the last 20+ years is the real estate industry. And as you marketers will know, real estate agents sit at the bottom of the consumer “Trust Barometer” either just above or below, advertising and marketing types, depending upon the measurement report.

Two things my proprietary research has revealed over the years:

  1. Consumers believe most real estate agents try too hard to pretend they’re something they’re not – professional – by overdressing to impress.
  2. The bigger the photo of the agent in the real estate ad, the less that consumers trust the agent.

Last week I was reminded of this by a mate of mine, who is a very talented art director. He was recently contracted by an average suburban real estate agent in Sydney, to design their ads, brochures and some digital assets.

He was to work in their back room and not have any dealings with the public. Here’s what he wore on his first day at work:


This is a typical day’s clobber for most in the advertising and digital world. Quality casual clothes. There are no shiny suits, no completely useless neck ties, no Russian clown shoes that stick out 4 inches in front of your toes curling upwards on the end (minus the pom-pom) – in other words he did not dress like a spiv who leaves you counting your fingers after shaking hands with you.

Within an hour of starting work, the female who contracted him – no fashion princess herself – rang the recruiter and asked him to tell my mate he was inappropriately dressed for the job. She demanded he wear a suit and tie to be a back room art director designing her marketing collateral. Seriously, she did. She wanted him to dress completely inappropriately for the job he was tasked to do, because she had bad fashion sense.

The recruiter rang my mate, fearing he was working in board shorts, singlet and thongs. My mate promptly sent the recruiter a photo of himself in his fully acceptable work clobber. The recruiter’s response; “I’m speechless”.

Suffice to say my mate didn’t go back the next day.

Then a few days later my mate gets an email from GQ with a recommended look for this season. Here’s the image – it speaks for itself:


I have friends and relatives who are very successful real estate agents. They dress comfortably, they don’t overdress. They never pretend to be anything but who they are – a real estate agent. They know that if they overdress they lose their customer’s trust, because they look like they are trying too hard and therefore by implication, have something to hide. This translates into dishonesty, just as the consumer trust barometer reveals.

So maybe if the fashion fools of real estate started dressing appropriately for the job and focused on customer service, rather than their Jimmy Choos, they might move up the consumer trust scale.

Gotta go to work now. Where are my designer stubbies?


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The Daily Mail’s ironic typo about retail store Typo…


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If you ever needed more evidence of the disease being spread by the content marketers, just read a typical content marketer’s content or “curated” online publication.

The mistake these cyber-hustlers perpetuate is summed up by this phrase “I type, therefore I am….a copywriter”. The “experts” peddling content marketing claim “everybody writes”. Well sorry to state the obvious, but it’s simply not true.

Everybody types, but not everybody writes.

Here’s a headline running today, in the curated online “news” site The Daily Mail.

Parents ‘disgusted’ after finding swear words on books candles and beach towels in popular stationary shop on display in front of children



I’m no grammar dude, but any primary school child knows the word stationary means “standing still, not moving”. Just like the brain of the article’s author.

Anything referring to writing materials, books, pens etc is known as “stationery“. The easy way to remember it is “e for envelope”.

Here’s a clanger by BigW – sent to me by a colleague who wants anonymity. And the company wonders why it’s standing still in terms of growth?


And here’s another typo I noticed in the Qantas magazine last week.


The subhead says “Epson have it in the bag“.

The last time I looked Epson was singular, while have is plural – in layman’s terms.

The subhead should read: “Epson has it in the bag”.

Mistakes like this are everywhere. An application I read for a marketing role requiring writing skills, included the following: “Unfortunately, motor accidents do happen, with thousands hospitalised in Queensland due to road traffic crashes each year.”

The subject of this sentence is “motor accidents”. How do thousands of motor accidents end up in hospital each year?

Maybe Confucius should be taught in schools? Here’s what he had to say about communication:

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.

This gives me an idea. Given the B.S. being peddled by the content marketers, maybe content marketing should be rebranded. Just call it “helpless confusion” as that’s how it makes most intelligent marketers feel…

Emotion Trumps Reason – always has, always will…


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As the world digests the US election results, the TV screens are full of experts asking questions about how it was possible Trump got elected. Using the rational side of their brains, people are trying to explain why it shouldn’t be.

Well any marketer worth their salt will tell you, one of the most fundamental principles of marketing is this – people buy emotionally and justify their purchases rationally.

If people bought rationally, Jimmy Choo probably wouldn’t exist as a brand. No rational human wants to walk around in 6-10 inch high stilettos! If we bought rationally, the most dominant recent US contribution to the planet – the Kardashians – wouldn’t have any followers.

But we always buy emotionally. Take middle age men for example. They buy a red sports car, then justify their action by claiming a great trade-in deal, free cup holders, acceleration from 0-100 in 3 seconds and lots of other vehicular facts. The real reason they buy the car, is that when they take off at the lights they feel like God and believe it will help their chances with the feminine sex. Fools.


Politics aside – Trump is first and foremost a promoter. He knows that to win the hearts and minds of the people, you must tap into them emotionally.

“Make America Great Again” is a powerfully emotional proposition. Particularly when Trump shouts it as “Let’s Make America Great Again”.


Compare it to Hillary Clinton’s – “Stronger Together”. This is nowhere near as emotionally appealing – despite all the focus groups used to develop it. The rational discussions in those research panels can easily justify anything – though rarely do they correctly understand human nature.


So if you want to succeed with your marketing, your proposition has to be an emotional one. Which is why the Content Con Artists are leading marketers into failure.

They claim you have to stop publishing salesy copy – you just have to publish lots of vanilla content and non-sales copy, or tell your boring story in an “awesome” way and the world will flock to your door. “You no longer need to sell” is their false mantra.

Let me explain something very simple – selling is emotional. People love being sold to – and the experience is called “excellent customer service”. So ignore the Content Con Artists and go forth and sell something if you want your business to succeed.

Like many of you I am a tad nervous about the future after today’s result, but I was also nervous about the quality of both candidates.


Now I’ll just wait for the sales pitch from the President elect once he’s in office and won’t waste time trying to justify why he won.

All that rational thought is too emotionally draining…



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How low can marketers go…


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As those who work in the marketing industry know, it is in dire need of good publicity. What’s the adage about a cobbler’s shoes always in need of repair?

We’re ranked at the bottom of the list of the most trusted professions, if we make the list at all. And the recent outing of long-suspected shonky media buying agencies, has only served to confirm what the general public perceive. I’ll have more on the media buying dishonesty soon.


One of the reasons I’ve not posted here for a couple of months, is that I’ve been tutoring on advertising to 150 university students – in the first and final years of their degrees. To put it in perspective, I’ve read and marked 350+ assignments and presentations submitted by enthusiastic young people wanting a career in our industry.

It gave me some time to reflect and I’m a tad concerned for their future, as I’m not sure how valuable their degrees will be if they want an honest career. Here’s why:

In 1994 I ran my first e-marketing seminar, including some guest speakers from different organisations. Little did I realise at the time, how indicative it was of the industry that was to evolve to the ‘digital marketing’ one we know today.

There was a presentation from a new joint venture called NineMSN. It was between Microsoft and the owners of a television network. A lady whom I knew from the marketing industry was suddenly their e-marketing expert, despite having no expertise. Mind you, nobody had any expertise. The presentation was slick and full of graphics, charts and outlandish predictions about the information superhighway – remember those buzzwords?

Because the industry was still in gestation, the audience of marketers was extremely sceptical towards her claims – much like today’s worried marketers and business owners are about social media and content marketing.


Trust me I work in digital marketing…








The most powerful presentation came from an email supplier who used a whiteboard to draw a diagram of how the internet worked and how computers connected to each other. He explained what it meant and the potential for what it meant. The audience lapped it up.

And the rest as they say, is history. A whole industry was spawned. The “how to be an instant digital marketing expert” industry. Anyone can be one – just use some digi-buzzwords, imply secret knowledge, claim all things that always worked no longer do and you’re away. Even better if you publish a book denouncing all things common sense and praising unproven new marketing secrets.

Or better still, just announce “I am a digital marketing expert” and you automatically are. No qualifications necessary. For a typical example of this faux expert, you need look no further than the latest digital flavour of the month – the alleged Content Marketing experts. They give charlatans integrity.







If it is so easy to get away with deceit to succeed, why should anyone bother with a marketing, advertising, public relations or communications degree? If all you need to do to fake expertise is Google “world’s best <insert subject> advertisement” and copy it for your brand or client, why study at all? If you can manufacture phony credentials by paying a slave in Asia or the subcontinent, to ghost write a book for you, so you can claim to be a “thought leader” why get a degree?

The digital era has sunk the marketing industry to a new low. I’ve never known marketers to be as cynical about agencies, suppliers and alleged expertise as they have in the first fifteen years of this century.






But I live in hope, as I suspect the digital tide is turning. There is a growing chorus of intelligent voices calling out the cyber hustlers for what they are. Marketers are realising you need to use lots of media channels and continually test lots of media channels to succeed. Those who dumped proven channels for solely digital ones, are doing U-turns and going back to their roots.

They’ve realised the various digital media are not all they’re claimed to be – results are revealing the truth. If only Australia Post had maintained its investment in direct mail, as this channel is killing it for serious marketers. And of course television is still the dominant media by massive figures.

So maybe knowing about marketing strategy, branding, the time-proven principles of creating outstanding advertising, media planning and all that tertiary-trained knowledge, gained at university, will be worth investing in for a marketing career?

It better be. I’m having a ball hanging out on campus and learning from tomorrow’s ad legends – they are enthusiastic about their future careers and I’d love them to have a worthwhile industry in which to work.






But they have to study first. Where’s that homework file…



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