-Matt Conte, Creative Director
As an advertising student for the past four years, a once prevalent thought that used to cross my mind every once in a while has marinated and festered into a nagging belief that refuses to exit the confines between my ears. It is a belief that stems from the fact that nearly every student of the advertising profession (notice I didn’t say advertising student) is so caught up in pleasing their peers that the lifeblood of the advertising profession tends to be an afterthought. By lifeblood, I am referring to the general masses. You know, the people with the purchasing power necessary to fuel the big old machine that is advertising and marketing.
Too often, in my opinion, do I witness my advertising peers place themselves on a sort of pedestal as if a power has been invested into them to be able to judge what is considered good work or bad work. As such, constant over analysis by self-proclaimed “experts” has become the norm. You’ve heard the conversations between these “experts” before. They go something like this:
“My god, I can’t believe they used Helvetica.”
“That car is riding on the mountains because it represents freedom.”
But the point of the matter is that it is irrelevant what we as students of advertising like or consider good work. Do you think the average person sees an ad and recognizes the Helvetica font? Of course not. Do you really believe that your average Joe sees the car ad and thinks, “Boy, I’ll be so free in that car to drive anywhere?” Of course not. Instead he’s more likely to say something along the lines of, “What the hell is that car doing in the mountains?”
So what am I getting at here exactly? What is my belief?
We as students of the advertising profession need to stop thinking about just pleasing our peers. We need to stop thinking about ourselves as the authority in determining the merit of an ad. Instead, we need to start focusing on the average consumer and what they want. After all,
it’s their money that determines the merit of an advertising campaign.
Editor's note: Matt didn't realize that his view aligns very closely with Sir David Ogilvy in Ogilvy on Advertising. "Good advertising is salesmanship," is the thesis of the book. If you agree at all with Matt, you should pick it up.