Are you wasting good money on bad advertising?

I wrote a blog post recently about print ads and how I was convinced that print advertising was in decline. You can read the post here. I also shared the post on the Advertising Copywriting group on Linkedin and it generated a lot of comment, most of it ridiculing my stand. You can see the thread here.

A lot of people, especially those from the advertising industry were not very happy with what I wrote. And some of them quoted, rather predictably the mighty advertisers Coca Cola and McDonalds. Yet despite spending US$1 billion on advertising in 2014, McDonalds profits were down 15%! And are now lower than they were 5 years ago. Samsung spent US$14 billion on marketing in 2014 and suffered 3 straight quarters of losses for the first time ever.

And I asked how much have Nokia and Blackberry spent on advertising over the last 10 years to get them to the brink of extinction?

Others looked at the quality of ads, with one copywriter stating, “Quite frankly, the quality of most print ads is abominable. They are either badly written or designed, or so “avante garde” that the company’s name and logo are hidden.”

And this is a huge problem in South East Asia where, on the whole what constitutes a good ad – a strong headline or call to action, unique image, and well written copy is often lost in the charge for fast turnaround of materials, low budgets and the habit of marketing professionals not challenging bosses, business owners or even their spouses!

The results can often be catastrophic as immediately forgetable ads that fail to connect with target markets, don’t deliver the right information, are too confusing or worse, look like other ads appear across newspapers and magazines.

The following ads illustrate the approach to advertising in Malaysia over five years of five different companies from telecommunications, hospitality and insurance.



Share or reconnect?
Share or reconnect?


Much of the copy is weak, the messages, if there are any are obscure or try to do too much and the calls to action, if they can be called that, don’t make sense and there are more than one!

But most tragic of all, they have all used the same image to try and connect with their audience.

These ads will accomplish little and are a waste of money. They have very little value for the company and will most likely be ignored by consumers. I suspect they were done in house and no doubt the image is a free download from an image bank.

I cannot imagine any professional marketing director allowing these ads to go out so one can only assume they were approved by bosses who don’t know the importance of a good ad.

Firms wonder why advertising doesn’t work and question why they should have to pay for advertising agencies. Well this sort of advertising is not the solution. Until firms appreciate the importance of a good ad, they would be better off throwing money down a drain.


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