Direct Response Works -- the Products Being Sold However ...

The Lessons Learned From Cash4Gold's Super Bowl Spot

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These days, when you say anything about direct response, you tend to get a direct response.

Such as after the Super Bowl, where the ads featured all the usual furry animals; all the usual cheesecake, all the usual guys getting hurt and one remarkable exercise in transactional commerce direct-to-moron.

We don't hate direct-response at all. We mainly just hate the companies that use it.
We don't hate direct-response at all. We mainly just hate the companies that use it.
This, of course, would be Cash4Gold, the appeal from the famously destitute Ed McMahon and MC Hammer for you to send your old jewelry, dental work, nuggets, fleeces, parachutes, oldies, cages, rules or whatever in exchange for hard cash. Ad Review saw this ad in the Super Bowl and shuddered -- not because it was a sad exercise doomed to fail, but because it was a sad exercise certain to succeed.

We predicted it would have the highest ROI for any advertiser on the big game, and lamented it, too.

That's where the direct-response came in.

bob, your comments on the cash4gold ad show your naivete. the true goal of advertising is to generate sales, which this ad certainly will do (you said so yourself). �New York, NY

@Bob Your commentary on Cash4Gold comes off as sanctimonious. You correctly state this ad will likely have a better ROI than any other commercial, so then, why is it so bad? Is the purpose of commercials to sell products or for ad execs to feel good about how smart and funny they are? Wheeling

David Ogilvy said if it doesn't sell, it isn't creative. Lester Wunderman energized these words with action and founded our agency and an entire industry around it. After 50 years in business, there isn't a better credo for marketers to embrace. -- David Sable; Vice Chairman; COO Wunderman -- NY, NY

And, courtesy of Twitter, this neat little tweet professing to know Ad Review's deepest, darkest biases:

He hates dir-resp.

Well, sorry to inform you, he doesn't hate dir-resp. As he has made quite clear over the past 24 years, he rather fancies direct response -- partly because it fulfills the most rudimentary function of advertising, i.e., delivering news, and partly because, unlike most of the brand messaging out there, it isn't ashamed to sell.

Selling is good. Selling encourages people to buy. Most of the time, buying is good. Selling and buying make the world go 'round. We're for that, and always have been.

In fact, over the years, we've also constantly, obsessively, often caustically lambasted marketers and their agencies for forsaking the art of the sell in favor of the art of winning trophies -- this by being totally hilarious or spectacular in 30 extravagant, militantly unpersuasive seconds. So, no, we don't hate dir-resp at all.

We mainly just hate the companies that use it.

Bcse, by and lrge, they are slz bgs.

They are too many of them schlockmeisters, ambulance chasers, con artists, fly-by-nighters. They sell credit repair, psychic advice, penis extensions, nuisance litigation, worthless "collectibles," miracle diets, cash for car titles, get-rich-quick schemes and 17� on the gold-value dollar for your heirlooms. Perhaps most of these businesses aren't actually criminal, but many of them are parasites, feeding on the ignorance, greed, stupidity and panic of the most gullible and the most vulnerable.

All of which sleaze, naturally, rubs off against not merely morally upright direct-response advertisers, but all advertisers all the time. Yes, on a case-by-case basis, some dir-resp advertisers will enjoy extreme success -- but success is not the only measure of success. Jim and Tammy Faye were successful. Jenna Jamison is successful. Al Qaida is successful.

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