Often Wrong, Never in Doubt

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Three years ago, advertising zillionaire Donny Deutsch wrote a book called “Often Wrong Never In Doubt”. And even though he perhaps didn’t mean it in the way I’m going to describe it here, I think it may describe one of the more profound truths of advertising today. Not least in Sweden.

If you think about the job advertising is meant to do, you could perhaps boil it down to this: “Advertising should increase the long and/or short term value of a brand”. Short term value could mean increased sales this saturday, long term value could mean paving the way for future line extentions or increased prices. And since the “value” of a brand doesn’t neccessarily have to be monetary, this definition can also hold true for non profit organizations, political parties, etc.

Value can then be broken down to several underlying currencies like recognition, trust, status, etc.

Before saying what I’m about to say, I also need to assure you that I think a lot of great advertising IS being created today, but that is not the point of this case. What I would like to ask instead is this: How can it be that so much mediocre planning work and luke-warm creative work still leads to increased brand value? Personally I’m particularly puzzled by how weak a lot of campaigns are strategically. But still they seem to work to some degree.

Without knowing it, I think these mediocre agencies benefit from the “Often wrong, never in doubt”-phenomenon. By believing themselves that they’re actually doing a good job, they are at least putting out something void of doubt. They are putting out, with confidence, something with a fairly clear and concise message. And while the message may be poor (or perhaps completely dead), at least they have something that will up the value of the client’s brand, even though it may be a fraction of the increase they could have experienced.

So what’s the lesson behind this? Well – the “Often wrong, never in doubt”-phenomenon is a bad thing since it keeps poor planners, creatives and agencies in the business. I would say that this is the single most important reason why we are seing so much bad advertising out there. But it is also a good thing since it maintains the confidence that is just so important in any campaign, and can actually make a fairly bad campaign work. At least to some degree.

And to those of you amazing planners and creatives out there – I didn’t mean you.

About the Blog

This blog is written by Walter Naeslund and has been around since 2007. The blog is about the journey of starting an advertising agency and a sneak peek behind the scenes of what goes on at the Honesty HQ in SoFo, Södermalm. It is also a blog about communication & technology. The blog has gathered almost a thousand posts over the years with several longer and shorter breaks. Welcome and enjoy.
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