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  • Wim Vermeulen

Say the word, Mr. Pritchard



Thank you, Mr Pritchard, for what you’ve been doing lately. You are challenging the status quo in our industry and, more importantly, you’re pushing us to reinvent it. And rightfully so, our industry needs some shaking up. Of course, your company has a legacy of challenging our industry. Wasn’t it Ed Artzt, then CEO of P&G, who warned us in 1994 of a future in which consumers would shun advertising unless we gave them reason to pay attention?

He was right, the consumer is avoiding our work. Ad blocking is the biggest consumer revolt in history. You are the biggest advertiser in the world, making you partially responsible. Of course you know this too, otherwise you wouldn’t be talking about the crap trap, raising the bar on quality or having more creative people in agencies. 


And it is exactly what the consumer is telling us as well. 77% of the US ad block-users say they are not opposed to all ads, just the annoying ones. You would think that, in an industry where customer centricity is of the utmost importance, we would take that feedback seriously and stop creating annoying ads. Unfortunately, we don’t. We keep putting out more of the same.


There is one company that takes this feedback to heart. Google has developed a policy against annoying ads which it rolled out last month. Since February 15th, Google Chrome is blocking annoying ad formats.


Don’t you think it is time for the biggest advertiser in the world to follow suit and develop its own policy against annoying ads. A policy that would foster the creation of inspiring content, not irritating content? After all, you know how to make inspiring content: how many brands have turned an insult into a phrase that now represents the empowerment of young women? Il faut le faire.


Imagine what would happen if you would develop a policy against creating annoying content within your company. You employ 95000 people, work with 6000 agencies, and manage the biggest ad budget of the world. Image all those people and agencies would use your advertising money to put out amazingly inspiring content. Image what that would mean for our industry, and for the consumer. When you talk, Mr. Pritchard, everyone in the industry listens. This means that many more marketeers and agencies, not working for you, would get your memo too. It could have the same effect as Bill Bernbach’s memo from 1947. It could change our industry.


You have the power to make this happen, Mr Pritchard. The only thing you need to do is to draw a line in the sand like Google has done, install a Policy Against Annoying Content and make your people and agencies implement it. The rest of us will follow. And your PAAC doesn't even’t have to be perfect. Bernbach’s memo wasn’t neither. Leave it to us to perfect it.


Say the word, Mr. Pritchard.


(This article appeared here first. Views are my own)

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