If we at The Escape Pod had a motto that would be it. What else is there? We’re in the advertising business. We sell stuff. Isn’t that ALL there is? Which is why we don’t have a motto. It should be blindingly obvious. But it isn’t, apparently.

The past ten years have been a bit of a shock to the advertising model. Advertisers and their agencies had understandably gotten very cozy with the crack cocaine of TV advertising. And who could blame us? We had a direct pipeline into your front room. It was perfect!

Then the internet came along and spoiled everything. The attention of the masses splintered. And advertising was thrown for a bit of a loop for a while there. We became preoccupied with things that didn’t REALLY matter. We became obsessed with the Internet. A medium that didn’t rely on us for it’s existence. A medium we couldn’t bend to our will. The bloody cheek!

Along the way the original mission of advertising, to sell stuff, kind of got lost. But that doesn’t change the fact that that’s our raison d’etre. Why we’re here. What our clients hire us to do. It’s the ONLY important bit.

I remember when I was starting out in advertising in New York in the early 1990s. I was truly desperate to get a job. Not just any job, a very specific job working for my advertising hero. A guy who had made his name with work that legendarily sold the shit out of whatever he was advertising real hard.

And I remember having an epiphany one day. All I had to do was create ads that solely sold the product in as naked a fashion as possible and I would immediately differentiate myself from all my fellow ad wannabes who were all trying to show how funny/clever THEY were. It was so simple. I would stand out simply by being the guy who sold the product really hard.

So I devised a test for my ads: if a deaf mute door to door salesman were to hold up this piece of paper to a prospect, would he get invited in? And if the ad didn’t pass that test I wasn’t interested in it.

It worked a treat. My ads got exponentially better and I got hired by my hero.

I never forgot that test. It still works.

Are my ideas selling the product in a brutally hard and honest manner? It’s still the only test that matters.

PS: this post was inspired by this great post by dave trott and this great reaction by vic over at Sell! Sell! Clearly, we should all go out for a pint next time I’m in London.


  1. Vinny, I read the Ad Contrarian all the time. He posted a very controversial piece recently (which I agreed with) on the failure of digital. It was the subject of many blogs and podcasts. It seems 97% of all video is still watched on the TV. The volume of shows watched on Hulu and mobile video pales compared to TV/Cable. And you just gave a synopsis of my outsiders view of today’s ad world in a sense. And why I like your work.

    The ad world has gotten a lot more complicated now in the last 20 years for good and bad. I forget sometimes to keep quiet about the bad and save my thoughts as ammo to score clients vs trying to help the industry at large out of its smugness.

    4 blog posts in one day. A record rabbit!

  2. Howie, I too love TAC. he’s crazy. he speaks the truth.

    people are people. they’re busy. too busy for our shit.

    that’s the eternal struggle.

  3. I’m TAC fan as well.
    cross-linked with Trott, too. even quoted Howie there (send me an invoice; I’ve 10 euros in bank).

    these are the main havens of sanity I mentioned few days ago. really tired of the crappo-di-tutti-crappi that’s been around for the last few years.

    but I can (sort of) understand agencies to babble. I just can’t understand clients who keep buying that.

  4. Great post Vinnie, I love the ‘deaf-mute door to door salesman’ test.

    “We sell stuff. Isn’t that ALL there is? Which is why we don’t have a motto. It should be blindingly obvious. ”

    I really should be, shouldn’t it? But for 95 per cent of people I’ve met in advertising, it doesn’t seem to be.

    Looking forward to the pint.

  5. Vic never knew you were in London or had a blog. It was late last night but going to check your site out today once I get out of bed and get my coffee.

    Make sure Vinny pays for drinks I heard he can drink like a fish and a rabbit ;-)

    BTW my who business model is built on going against what George Parker (Adsam is another great blog) calls the douchenozzles and fucktards in the industry do. Vinny are those two words legal on your blog?

  6. I’ve always felt that marketing (as in advertising, packaging, design, etc.) differs from selling in that marketing is the art of making people want to buy things – which is why marketing should ideally precede selling.

    Apple doesn’t sell you stuff, they make you feel like you can’t live without it.

  7. simon. i’ve always felt i was in the demand/desire creation business, which to me is selling. advertising being the tip of the marketing sword in a way. the bit everyone sees and experiences.

  8. Simon you are correct in a way. But it more has to do with the product/service and your end user. I have many years of B2B sales in my history. Its a waste of money for some companies to advertise vs sending a person to sell directly. And the flip side. Apple can’t go door to door and be cost effective. So Advertising/Marketing is the means to the end. Its still selling but in a different way.

    They key for any type of sales is finding people/businesses who could use your product. Letting them know you exist. And hopefully when it is time to buy you get a shot at the sale. This could be based on price or quality or product differentiation.

    Where advertising is hamstrung is sometimes the product sucks but you get paid to advertise it. You do your job with great crafting and they try the product. They hate the product or its lame and never go back. But you did your job. What you can;t do is fix things because its not your product or company.

    The bad thing is when that scenario happens the client for whatever delusional reason often thinks its the agency as the problem vs the product/brand.

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