In "The End of Advertising as We Know It," to be published in September by John Wiley & Sons, the former agency man/soft drink honcho cum marketing guru says modern advertising is too focused on art and entertainment to actually sell anything. "It's a colossal waste of money, and if you don't wise up, it could end up destroying your company," he writes. "Advertising is not about winning Effies or Gold Lions. It's about making money for your clients."
Killer commercials work, he says, only if everything else is right-branding, packaging, celebrity front men, sponsorships and customer service. The ill-conceived focus on creative was in full swing by the early 1980s and is exacerbated by CEOs who abdicate marketing strategy and execution to Madison Avenue. He says its inefficiency will continue as long as executives buy into artsy creatives who pledge that advertising lost on the corner suite will resonate with the target.
"CEOs don't really understand the importance of communication in advertising and its role in getting people to buy more of your stuff," he said in an interview last week. "Advertising is about selling more stuff more often to more people and for more money."
In his third book, Mr. Zyman cautioned against high awareness, referencing companies like Kmart Corp. and Montgomery Ward that rode high recognition all the way to lower sales and Chapter 11. Advertisers can't afford an "eventual" return on ad dollars, whose results Mr. Zyman said must be measured like any other investment.
"Awareness doesn't sell. All it does is get you into the consideration set. And then you still have to sell," he said. "People are chasing movie making-it's about getting the helicopter in the right position ... It needs to stop."