How Great Advertising Can Sink Your Brand


Yesterday I was talking with a friend and veteran industry exec who has held top level positions at world class brands and agencies about Mike Bloomberg’s exit from the presidential campaign.  He’s worked closely with some of the top agency people involved with the campaign and can vouch that Bloomberg 2020 had access to the many of the best creative minds in the business.

“It reminds me of the old saying, ‘There’s nothing worse for a bad product than great advertising,'” he said.

In other words, bad products will get found out eventually by consumers.  And that will happen more quickly if your marketing campaign is so good that it generates a lot of attention to what you’re selling.

It is not my intent here to engage in a political discussion.  You can get better election commentary elsewhere.  Nor do I mean to suggest that a man of such accomplishment and achievement as Mike Bloomberg is “bad product.”  However for marketers the Bloomberg campaign is a case study worth noting, so hopefully you will indulge me to make a point.

The polling data supports the conventional wisdom that Bloomberg’s poor performance in his first debate sunk his campaign.  Prior to that he quickly built tremendous momentum on the wings of a $500 million advertising budget.  Putting aside how one feels about his politics, it’s clear that for many people what was presented in the incredibly well funded, impressive advertising campaign did not match what they saw live during the debate.

How many of us working in marketing and media have said at least once “if only I had a bigger ad budget” when diagnosing missed goals?  Sometimes the advertising is the problem, but more often than not the issues run deeper.  The lesson is all the money in the world won’t matter if consumers are underwhelmed by what you’re selling.  

Make sure you can deliver what you say you can before briefing the creative and media agencies on the campaign.  Trust and authenticity are never for sale.


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