Business, Industry

He said, “Advertising is like painting a house!”

Much to my dismay, in a recent conversation with a good friend of mine (a very established Guyanese businessman), he blurted out, "Advertising is like painting a house! It's straight forward. No real academic or technical principles apply. You just do it… it's a no-brainer".

Boy was I furious! But I kept my cool, realizing that the real issue was – that's exactly what most clients in Guyana thought. And it’s this sort of thinking which has us stuck in this cesspool of poor advertising to begin with. If a client knew better, he/she could then demand or appreciate better.

The reality is, good advertising is a special skill. One that’s just as academic as it is artistically flexible. It is governed by specific principles of design, strategy and the craft of persuasive copywriting.

Until we can acknowledge this in Guyana and further, apply it, our ads will remain the ugly, non-selling wastes of money they are.


11 thoughts on “He said, “Advertising is like painting a house!””

  1. Perhaps the gentleman is right. Advertising may very well be like painting a house, where he is ludicrously wrong is that it is a ‘no brainer’. It is not. Painting a house proper is a very complicated endeavour that should only be attempted by experts. They have to consider the environment, climate and tempretures, shades, culture, aesthetics among a host of other issues in order to get it right.

    If in painting a house the gentleman was making reference to slapping some paint, any paint, on a 10×10 shack then let him go his merry way. Painting a house, like advertising, done properly, effectively and impressively is for experts only, not quacks who barely graduated from some dodgy high school on Woolford Avenue.

  2. Thank you for your comment Guyana Media Critic. Gotta love ya. You always manage to talk dirty. No doubt a clever way to keep the readers reading.

    During that discussion with the gentleman, believe me he meant ‘slapping on the paint. Any paint…” Which is why I referred to it in that particular context. Over time you may choose to see, I really have nothing to gain from misrepresenting anyone.

    As for your statement about ‘quacks’ and high schools, I can only wonder to whom you refer.

    Thank you also for the additional comments posted on your blog. Most of them really help to increase awareness of my quest. To genuinely contribute to my country and the businesses in it.

    Best of health and happy blogging.

  3. The quacks are everywhere, every ad agency has a few who only have jobs because they are someone’s neice or nephew. Their creativity is zero, their work ethic is 0.5 out of a hundred and they are generally clueless. They only have a job because a relative gives them a bligh after they barely scraped through high school while binge drinking at Buddy’s rather than paying attention to their books.

    That is the basis of ad agencies generally – a friends and company affair.

    There is usually one figure head who has contacts and some political weight which he muscles around in order to secure contracts then hands off the work to his dim, brainless lot only to come up with some silly slogan and a sillier ad campaign which amounts to a waste of money and a waste of time.

  4. In short, that’s pretty much what most local agencies sum up to indeed. But like I said, only the clients of these agencies have the power to end the madness. It is my prayer that they atleast try.

    A good place to start would probably be here.

  5. The problem with our agencies here, is that the creativity personnel are not part of “in-house” staff. They are almost always subcontracted. And it’s the same pool from which all the agencies subcontract. I don’t think they can afford to keep them on staff. The result is that there a lack of attention to detail, the creative personnel see it as a “job” and don’t really benefit from the client views. The other draw back and it’s a more serious one, is that and I’ve experienced this personally where the agencies try to bill you for rejected artwork. In otherwords you have to pay them to arrive at an accepted proposal.

  6. Anand, that is indeed the case. I however believe, it’s not that agencies cannot afford the external creative talent. Its’ that they refuse to pay them decent salaries to retain them on staff. They refuse. The want the cheap and sweet approach which is why bad designs come out of ad agencies to begin with. This leads to the problem you highlighted. In additon to displaying the value agencies really have for their clients brand image.

    I have a suggestion that may help you from being billed for artwork drafts. Agree on all copy, illustrations and the flow of ads before any graphic artist goes to work. Agency service at this level is supposed to be free. Then, as it relates to drafts, come to an agreement with them that for every layout, you get a few complimentary chances to correct. They need to pass this rule unto their sub-contractors as well. (This method is by no means unreasonable. It’s generally standard agency practice).

    Clients must appreciate however, that a final approval must be reached within a reasonable amount of presentations. For clients are sometimes guilty of being unable to make-up their minds which is not really the agency’s problem. But an agreement like that should make all parties happy.

  7. i have read anands comment on agencies billing for rejected work, i think i should respond to this.
    agencies are supposed to work with clients on a retainer basis, contracts, budgets and the lot.
    here’s our situation, the client gets a brain wave one night and call, here nuh, sex sells, design a bill board fuh me. so there we are going through the pases and make the presentation the next morning. he likes it but shelves it because of the cost. who pays for the time. these bastards will tend to reject all jobs so as not to continue with the project and therby not paying the bill. remember this, rejected work does not only cover computer time, it covers transportation, visiting time, printer inks, paper, wear and tear on the computer and printer, sleepless nights. your response will probably be well what if the client does not like it, well lets continue the project to the end where i could get my money. on one instance when i presented my bill i was told “well we ain using um so we ain paying”- go tell that to the car dealers “well we din use de car for de mont so we ain payin” advertising ad become like the prostitution business in guyana where the agencies, instead of competing creatively and wining good, they compete on price. wuh he charge 5 dalla me could get am fuh 2 dalla if me do um me self.

  8. Boy Nicholas, if you couldn’t make it in the ad business… I darn well know you could make it in show business – creole comedy for tourism Jerry. Ha ha ha.

    Very interesting comments though. Very interesting.

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