Bias In Advertising

Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

Otto von Bismarck

I came across this quote the other day, and it reminded me of an old Sunday school parable:

There once was a man who lived in a two story house.  The house was near a river and unfortunately the river began to flood.  As the river rose, warnings went out. Large jeeps drove through the area to evacuate people.  As a jeep drove by the man’s house, he was told: “You are in danger.  Your life is at stake.  You must evacuate.  Get in the Jeep.  Let us help you evacuate.” “No,” the man replied from his doorstep.  “I have faith.  I will be ok.  The flood won’t get me.  God will take care of me.”

The water continued to rise.

Soon the man was on the second floor.  A boat was going through the area and arrived at the man’s house. Rescuers made every effort to convince the man to take action so that his life would be saved. “You are in danger.  Your life is at stake.  You will drown in the flood.” “No worries,” says the man.  “I have faith.  Everything is ok.  Even though the flood is rising, I will be fine.  God will take care of me.”

The water continued to rise.

The man went to the roof to avoid the rising water.  A helicopter pilot sees him on top of the roof and hovers above the man.  Over a loudspeaker, the pilot tries to convince the man to grab the rope ladder which was dangling above his head. “You are in danger.  The flood is still rising.  You will drown if you do not grab the rope ladder.  Let us help you.” “No worries.” says the man.  “I will be fine.  Yes, the flood is higher but I have faith.  God will take care of me.”

The flood continued to rise.  The man drowned.

At the pearly gates, the man says to God:  “I had faith.  You let me die.”

To which God replies: “I sent you a jeep, a boat and a helicopter.  What more could I have done for you?”

There are many days when I feel like giving this response to clients who complain of poor results, while ignoring media recommendations supported by data, and forward thinking based upon years of experience. Instead, they prefer to rely on personal media and program bias. After all, if they watch or listen to something, everyone must do the same. Right? This search for affirmation instead of information, rarely leads to positive results.  

Especially now, with society so heavily impacted by both the Covid-19 virus as well as the response to it, the time for hope and wait is long past. In the media world, jeeps, boats, and helicopters are plentiful. 

Clients, who are used to relying upon radio for their messaging, don’t need to be despondent, or continue with the status quo. Instead, shift some budget to streaming audio to capture the additional people listening at home.

Those using Outdoor, should be renegotiating rates due to less traffic delivering fewer impressions. That budget could then be shifted to digital video.

With TV viewing dramatically increased due to more people at home, and rates substantially reduced from less advertiser demand due to a myriad of Covid-19 related reasons, there is no better time to be on air. More viewers, less money, sounds like a jeep joy-ride to me. 

There are so many businesses that have no plan for what to do when disaster strikes that they tend to do nothing or cancel everything. Neither is appropriate, and both can have long lasting negative repercussions from budget depletion to loss of brand recognition.

Working harder and having faith are absolutely essential.  It is also essential to stay aware and be willing to take action on opportunities that present themselves. When all is said and done, many of the solutions are within reach.  Slow down, look around, and learn from the mistakes of others.