Sir Hegarty nails it again

Ever since he’s retired, John Hegarty has really been letting adland have it with both barrels and calling bullshit on an industry that is even more awash with bullshit than it ever has been. And that’s saying something.

Adland’s decade-long desire to appear like it “gets digital” has led to the most spectacular wastes of time and money. Desperate to appear cool and techy, advertising has wallowed in widgets and digital doodads for far too long now.

It’s been mostly a mirage. People care even less about advertising online. It just doesn’t belong there. Simple as that.

When will advertising people wake up and realize that we are in the business of moving people closer to purchasing the brands we advertise? It can’t come too soon. They should listen to Sir Hegarty. Got this from a Canadian marketing mag btw. They promise more Hegaliciousness soon.


What’s wrong with advertising today?

My theory about it is—and this is not just my opinion—there is empirical evidence from the audience we talked to that they feel the quality of what we are producing has declined. You can look back in history and you can see the same thing, when you have a significant piece of technology, a particular development like digital, what happens is there’s a sort of creative deficit as we deal with it. We’ve certainly had that for the last 10 or 12 years. I think we’re sort of getting out of that now.

Because nobody knows quite what to do with it, we become obsessed with the technology, so technologists rule the airwaves. And it isn’t until creative people begin to work it out and say ‘What you actually can do with it is this.’

Look at the Lumière brothers who invented cinema but didn’t know they had invented cinema; they invented a moving camera. It took another 15 or 20 years before somebody worked out you could write stories and film them. They, in fact, gave up on it. And Les Paul, the creator of the electric guitar, he didn’t make rock and roll. He was a technologist.

So the deficit in quality isn’t about a lack of talent?
Nobody is to blame; it’s just a reality, it’s what happens. I think we lose confidence in things, we lose confidence in other media because all of a sudden people go, ‘Well, television is dead and it’s all over’ and ‘Print is dead and posters don’t matter anymore’ and all that sort of rubbish. And the focus, the concentration goes into this new medium until we work out what it’s delivering.

Has the industry started to eliminate this deficit?
I do think there’s the beginning of the reality [where we are recognizing] what digital technology can and can’t deliver. But people rush into these technologies without really understanding what they’re delivering, how they’re delivering, because they think it’s the new cool thing to do and if you’re not doing it, you’re kind of dead and old fashioned. Rather than saying, ‘What is it delivering? Can we measure what it delivers? Do we have any understanding of what it delivers? Do we understand how it’s going to work for us?’ none of that comes into force. So you have this focus away from things that we know have value, to things that we don’t know how to value.

And one of the other problems I have today is people have retreated to the edges of advertising. You know, they’re happy to do some small little campaign somewhere or they’re doing something on the net that hardly anybody sees and they’re getting awards for it and everybody’s cheering. But they’re not changing the way people feel or think.

4 responses to “Sir Hegarty nails it again

  1. This is great Vinny. But I think you are viewing things from the wrong angle. This goes for all advertising. TV, Digital etc. Back in the day when there was 5 channels and three main channels to make commercials you had to be the best. There was more opportunity making movies (unlimited capacity) than TV (limited number of spots).

    Now TV is almost unlimited. Anyone can make a cable ad spot. For web it is worse. It is unlimited by a faction of a gazillion. So of course the ads suck. anyone can make them. Often they just say a brand. And somehow brands are convinced if we see their name enough we will buy.

    Worse is because of the web we can go to their website anytime we want. And we don’t. I saw a bullshit study on Skittles. Skittles has 23,000 visits to their webpage a month. But they have some really big number of facebook fans. Skittles is a top 15 candy with no web presence. Really just a great taste, great location in stores and some witty TV. They don’t need digital.

  2. theescapepod

    chiefalien, i both agree and disagree.

    it has always been difficult to get the attention of the masses and it is very tempting to imagine that right now is more difficult than previously. what’s always in short supply are ideas that capture the imagination of lots of people at the same time. and the internet didn’t and doesn’t change the fact that video is the best ever way to tell a story.

    I agree re: Skittles. Social media is too often an onanistic exercise that yields nothing more onanism usually does. but if you can do something in any medium or environment that is genuinely exciting, then do it. most brands just stink up the internet.

  3. I think orks have stuck a dick up my arse

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