Do you make a product or do you provide a service?

This was one of the questions that Carly Ally and co wrestled with early on. They opted for the idea of advertising agency as maker of valuable product. And were one of the first to do so.

That distinction persists. The agencies who put all their energies into their creative product vs the agencies that are good at making their clients feel good. The former is a much harder life than the latter. But also much more rewarding.

Can you imagine anything worse than sucking at doing advertising? I can’t. What a horrible notion!

At the very least produce fragrant-smelling poison gas that blisses people out, is my thinking.

After a while in advertising you realize that the only thing worth pursuing is effectiveness.

What is effectiveness?

Here is effectiveness.

When a bricklayer builds he wall he gauges his “effectiveness” by this criterion: is the wall level and straight? very simple.

similarly the only thing that matters in advertising is: “did it sell?”. very simple.

but it’s HOW you do “effective” that makes you effective. this is not so simple.

And that’s where we come in!

9 responses to “Do you make a product or do you provide a service?

  1. You are so right. The commonplace idea that advertising is a “service business” kills us. Thinking of our business as being about a product is a much more radical thought than many would believe. Lawyers don’t try and keep their clients happy, they do what’s right for them (well that’s the theory at least).

    This piece of crud is a great illustration of what happens when you think advertising’s just about making little films. Sure he’s a film maker, but he knows sweet f.a. about advertising.

  2. mother of god that was awfully stupid on every possible front. mindblowingly stupid, boring and counterproductive. and too long. tsk, tsk. and they have managed to solidify the opposition. and it’s not funny. was that heather mills at the end? oy.

    worth a blog post of its own. WHAT NOT TO DO

  3. they already issued an apology for this… this… whatever this is.

    they even said their intention was to be funny. WTF?

    from intention to execution – all wrong.

  4. did they riki? bloody well should. but how did it ever make it that far? i’d love to know what they rejected IN FAVOR of doing that. what did they consider WRONG and not worthy of their time and resources? love to see that list!

  5. By the way, is escapology a play on eschatology?

  6. Tom,

    i am off to look up eschatology right now!

    ( …goes to wikipedia…comes back…)


    It was!

  7. But if it sells but leaves everything thinking your company is crass and stupid and you’ve pumped out a festering putrid annoyance that steals a little part of people’s happiness, did it still work?


  8. Content is a product. Distribution is a service. Not sure which is worse, the person who made the bad advertising that grates on people, or the person who distributed those bad ads for you to see.

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