Most retail advertising is so far behind the game it might as well be playing tiddlywinks
I’ve written some controversial pieces about advertising, but this might be the most controversial.
Why? Is it because I’m going to make a lot of enemies in my competitors? No.
It’s because I’m going to make the agency virtually unemployable by most Australian retail brands, by saying what most of my competitors think but won’t say.
I spent a little time over the weekend reading one of the popular newspapers, in the car listening to commercial radio and watching terrestrial TV. I can’t remember an advert for anything I want or need from a retailer. I can remember lots for how they made my skin crawl.
There’s poor retail advertising all over the world but why is the majority of stuff we are fed in Australia so bad you want to claw your own eyes out. I have a theory.
Many people have suggested that there’s a skills shortage for practitioners of retail advertising, but I think it’s worse. I think it’s an attitude problem of retail business owners.
There’s a systemic arrogance and a complete delusion in many businesses because as the market grew so did the size of their business. They equated the increase in their wealth and success to their genius.
Australia has had 20 odd years of growth, but it’s size, location, and protectionist culture has meant for many global predators it isn’t worth the trouble.
The lack of competition that sustains innovation, creativity and growth in competitive markets has cursed many Australian businesses to believe their own PR. They think their shit doesn’t stink.
When there is no competition, and growth is guaranteed, people do not need to innovate, to create differentiation. They’ll sell their stuff anyway.
The lucky country has raised a generation of business people that believe they are Midas: Because every enterprise they touch turns to gold: Why do they need to improve.
Darwin’s theory of evolution says that those that adapt have more chance of sustaining their species.
There’s a prime example a local retailer that still buys full colour pages in the local Sunday supplement (every week of the year) to portray their ‘breadth of range’, but it just looks like wallpaper. Badly designed wallpaper.
It says nothing about the brand, or nothing positive at least.
I, like 90% of the readers of that magazine are, am so immune to those adverts that we look away as we turn the pages.
They spend tens of thousands of dollars every year to get attention, and all they get is ignored.
Worse still their ads contain no information of where to buy other than their website address.
I’d guess that the vast majority of people that read the magazine would never go in their store, and that 90% of the people that visit their stores don’t read the newspaper.
Like their advertising, the website is badly designed, cramped and impossible to find anything easily. A reflection of the instore experience.
This attitude to customer experience oozes out of their communication.
It looks like they don’t care, and they probably haven’t for so long they don’t know how to change.
Even if they did want to change they’ve probably not got the skills in-house to make the (expensive) overhaul needed a reality.
If they wanted to change where would they go? To an ‘agency’? They wouldn’t have the nerve to tell them to save their ad spend, refit the shops, or retrain the staff. The agency business model isn’t built that way.
The Ad Sales team at the paper are just thinking of the commissions they earn every week they convince the client to continue or ignore the lack of return on investment: so they won’t put their hand up.
If they read this article they’d probably be defensive. What they should do is call me. I could fix it.