Let's Take A Closer Look

Explaining complicated subject matter simply since 1986

I bought the e-version of Bob Hoffman’s The Ad Contrarian for 99 cents last week and enjoyed his very different way of looking at the advertising business. Here are his opinions on branding and millennials:


As soon as brand became a verb, branding became an activity. And then it turned into an industry with lots of incompetent practitioners and 5,000 how-to books. Well, I’m here to save you a little reading and a lot of money.

You want to have a strong brand?

Stop branding. A strong brand is a byproduct that comes from doing three things right:

  1. Selling excellent products.
  2. Taking good care of your customers.
  3. Making sure your ads demonstrate how you are different from and better than the competition.

That’s what builds brands. That’s all you need to know. The rest is chitchat.

Aiming low.

There is an irresistible urge for marketers to target young people despite convincing evidence that older people have far more money, are far easier to reach, and all-in-all, make better customers. When’s the last time you saw a car ad with an old person in it? And yet, of the 13 cars the average American will buy in a lifetime, 8 of them will be bought after turning 50. The rationale for always showing young people in the ads is the stale canard that older people want to be like younger people. In fact, not only do older people not want to be like younger ones, but studies show half tune out when they see ads pitched to young people and a third actively avoid products whose ads are directed at younger people. The worst and most pervasive rationale for targeting young people is the notion that if you get them while they’re young, you will have them for life. This is the idiotic “lifetime value” argument. Someone please show me the one 50-year old who drives the same car, wears the same clothes, drinks the same beverages, or eats the same food he did at 16.

Bob also writes a blog called the Ad Contrarian. His recent post is about what he considers an irrational obsession with millennials.

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