May 28, 2010

The Insanity Of Web Metrics

Last week I wrote a post called "Why Creatives Are Always Confused." It was the most popular post I've ever written.

The link was re-blogged and re-tweeted a million times.

According to the hit counter I use, visits to the site skyrocketed -- tripling my normal traffic every day for a week, and some days hitting 4 or 5 times the normal traffic. The blog went from 40th most popular ad blog to 17th according to MediaBlips.

And yet, according to Feedburner, a service of Google, during that period, subscribers to my blog (which are generally quite consistent and grow or drop at an average of about a dozen or two a day) dropped by almost a thousand. One day subscribers dropped by 1,200 people.  The next day it went up by 800. On Saturday, when I posted nothing, it went up by 500. Then yesterday, when I had more visitors to the blog than ever before, it dropped by 500. Today it's up 900.

These numbers are completely chaotic, totally random, and thoroughly divorced from reality. Fortunately for me, this blog is a hobby. I keep track of these things only for curiosity purposes.

I feel sorry for people whose livelihood depends on these insane web "metrics."

I'm Nervous...
On Tuesday morning I'm doing a 90-minute closed-circuit TV broadcast to about a hundred TV stations in the US and Canada. Even Johnny Carson didn't do 90 minutes by himself -- and I'm no Johnny Carson. Worst of all, I have a 3-day weekend to worry about it. Would someone please pour me a drink.

May 27, 2010

Send In The Brand Babblers

There was a time in America when every problem was a communications problem.

If you couldn't get along with your husband, you weren't communicating. If your kid was incorrigible, you probably weren't on the same wavelength. If your boss didn't like you, you just couldn't get through to her. There were no problems of substance, just problems of communication.

The truth is, sometimes your husband is just a pain in the ass, and your kid is a nasty little snot, and your boss thinks you're a worthless shit. And the more you communicate the worse it gets.

Today we have the business version of this. Instead of communication, however, the problem in marketing today is always the brand

So if your products are crappy, or your stores are dirty, or your service is lousy, or your business strategy is stupid, you -- my friend -- have a brand problem! Send in the branding consultants. 

Pay them a few hundred thou and let them study your brand for a few months.

They'll give you a big fat report filled with charts and graphs and the latest up-to-the-minute buzzwords and cliches. And if anyone asks what you're doing about the problems you can make a nice little PowerPoint presentation.

Tinkering with the brand is so much more pleasant than solving the problems.

Solving problems requires unpleasantness. People have to be fired. Systems have to be changed. Products have to be redesigned.
Floors have to be swept and walls have to be painted.

Brand tinkering, on the other hand, is generally quite agreeable. All it requires is money and a bunch of congenial meetings.

Appoint a task force. Interview "stakeholders". Conduct focus groups. Have an off-site or two at a nice hotel.

Then start reporting the "learnings". Fire up the PowerPoint. Share the results. But remember, everyone's point of view is valid!

Best of all, if there's any real work to be done, it can be postponed until all the stakeholders have a chance to study the report and register their quibbles. Then the consultants can revise the deck, and everyone will be happy.

Unfortunately, after the money is spent and the naval-gazing brand babblers have all gone home, someone still has to sweep the floors and paint the walls.

May 26, 2010

3 Oddball Ideas About Media

Okay, before we get started here, let's put our cards on the table. I know nothing about media planning or buying. I'm a copywriter. Nonetheless, as in so many other areas, I have strongly held, ill-informed opinions. Here are a few.

Never before has the science of media planning and buying been so precise. Never before has there been more data available, and more analysis done. Never before have there been more well-trained media brainiacs at work.

And never before has it been more confusing and dangerous.

Because there are so many new media options evolving, and so many ways to dissect and evaluate these media options, there are also more ways than ever to piss money away on harebrained media schemes.

If I were a CMO and was responsible for millions in media spending, here are three very unscientific things I would do in addition to analyzing the numbers.

1. Watch the retailers: Retailers tend to be very savvy about media. They tend to be much closer to media subtleties than brand advertisers. They often know on a day-to-day basis what's working for them and what isn't. Many track their businesses daily and relate sales to media activity. If they are putting their money in a particular medium and taking it out of another, it tells you something about the general effectiveness of these media that cold statistics can't.

2. Who's making money? It's far from a perfect system, but keeping an eye on the supply and demand side of the media industry is a pretty good indicator of what's been effective. Who's making money in the media business is a reasonable barometer of what's working for marketers and what isn't. The fact that Google's search business is so robust, and its YouTube business can't make a profit, tells you that marketers are generally finding search to be effective and online video not very effective.

3. Think carefully about the numbers.  Taking the above example one step further, YouTube viewership has reached 2 billion videos a day. This is absolutely mind-blowing. However, it doesn't  make YouTube an effective advertising medium. There are some media that are universally utilized but are not very good for advertising (e.g., the telephone.)

Taking media advice from a copywriter is always a suspect proposition. However, if I were in your shoes, Ms. CMO,  I would always temper the analytics with a healthy dose of common sense.

May 25, 2010

The Web Advertising Dilemma

What if you picked up the telephone and instead of getting a dial tone you got an ad? You'd be angry, right? That's because the telephone is a medium of communication. When you are in the process of communicating, you don't want to be slowed down or sidetracked.

What if you picked up a dictionary and instead of finding a definition you found an ad? You'd be disgusted, right? Because a dictionary is a medium of information. And, once again, when you're looking for information, you don't want to be distracted or misdirected.

On the other hand, you turn on the tv every night and the first thing you see is an ad. It's probably annoying, but it doesn't make you angry. Why? Because tv is primarily a medium of entertainment, and you have grown accustomed to entertainment media carrying advertising.

The problem the web has as an advertising delivery system, is that it is a little of each. It's partly a medium of communication, partly an information medium, and to a lesser degree, an entertainment medium (remember, 99% of all video is still viewed on a TV.)

Because it is a hybrid, it has had a hard time finding its legs as an ad medium.

The currently fashionable idea that marketers can manipulate social media to serve their needs is largely a delusion. Yes, there will be isolated successes. But most web users are far too savvy to confuse honest social commentary with contrived social media "marketing." Social media is currently an effective way for companies to maintain good customers relations, and for smallish retailers to deliver sales promotion messages.

However, advertising on the web (i.e., commercial messages that create demand) will not be fully optimized until someone figures out how to put messages into a communication and information environment that are as acceptable as they are in an entertainment environment.

As far as I can tell, no one's figured it out yet.

May 24, 2010

Top 10 Music Moron Tweets

Here at Ad Contrarian world headquarters, we are often dismayed and alarmed at the amount of attention and respect that is given to entertainers. There was once a sensible age in which entertainers were called "fools."

Because they have contrived to become famous, they are often also assumed to have intellect, character and judgment. Gazing at the magazine rack at a supermarket check-out lane should quickly relieve us of any such illusions, but alas...

One of the malicious satisfactions of being an anonymous nobody is in pointing out what pathetic dimwits most of these famous people actually are. Which leads us to today's post.

It was bright and sunny one recent morning. I was enjoying my second cup. The laptop was affixed firmly to the top of my lap as I lounged sleepily on the sofa. Suddenly I saw it: Billboard magazine's Top 20 Tweets of the Week.
"Here's our round-up of singers', rockers' and rappers' 20 coolest and funnest tweets from the past seven days."
Yes, that's right -- funnest.

Even for someone who is absolutely clueless about pop culture, and has no idea who most of these cretins are, this was totally irresistible.

Now the truth is, some of these tweets are "funner" than others -- also, you have work to do this morning. So I've done a little editing for you.

Here we have The Ad Contrarian Top 10 Music Moron Tweets of the Week.

@keshasuxx (Ke$ha): Dearest David Spade ... I wanna lick your Joe DiRt mullet're the epitome of aREAL MAN in that movie.I salute you
@katyperry : I could really use a crunk juice iv right now.
@justinbieber : internet in the air...sweet
@Pink (P!nk): i get to go play in the dirt this weekend and watch @hartluck race big trucks. which basically means drink and shut my eyes and pray.
@PerezHilton : GaGa would happily be a newcomer over a tired old hasbeen! Yeah, I'm talking about YOU #ChristinaAguileea. You ain't no @BritneySpears !
@CourtneyLoveUK (Courtney Love): apparently all i do is LAMENT! thank GOD i am an empath and i fucking hate being an empath too, i feel way too much too much of the time
@_maxwell_ : why am i at this WHITECASTLE drive thru in #INDIANA?
@questlove (The Roots' Questlove): snap!!! Ronnie James Dio passed?!?!??!!?!?!?!? awwww man. so many cats put me on to him. dude was so loved by these cats. #rip
@jeweljk (Jewel): It looks like a drag queen and a hippie exploded in my purse: lotions, potions, vitamins & enough make up to make Rue Paul jealuus
@EstelleDarlings : Walked. Down. 35 flights. Of. Steep stairs. I am looking at this positively: my legs look "worked out" and therefore good in pumpum shorts
@samantharonson : Throwing one dollar bills in the air and then sending someone to retrieve them..... Not a baller move. A smart move, but baller free.
Is this the funnest, or what?

Amazing "virality" to last week's post "Why Creatives Are Always Confused." Must have touched a nerve. According to some site that measures such things, it was re-tweeted several hundred times. According to Alltop, at one point last week we had the #2 and #3 "Most Topular" advertising posts. Not bad for a cranky old fart.

May 21, 2010

Focus Group Friday

Morons And Their Focus Groups
After a year and a half of design, and 40 -- count 'em, 40 -- focus groups, the London Organising Committee of the 2012 Olympic Games introduced its Olympic Mascots this week.
These two monstrosities are called Wenlock and Mandeville (don't ask) and are supposed to help kids "engage with sport." Apparently this is a problem in London.

A design critic named Stephen Bayley said: “What is it about these Games which seems to drive the organisers into the embrace of this kind of patronising, cretinous infantilism?"

I shudder to think what these things would have looked like if there were only money for 30 focus groups.

Stop, You're Making Me Hungry
By popular demand, KFC is extending the life of its Double Down sandwich. The sandwich, made up of bacon and cheese pressed between two fried chicken filets, was supposed to be pulled on Sunday. However, consumer demand has been so high, they've decided to keep this incredibly disgusting thing on indefinitely.

I have a feeling Wenlock and Mandeville would like it.

Ice To Eskimos, Coals To Newcastle, etc
Also this week, celebrity chef Rick Bayless cooked a Mexican dinner for White House guest Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico. Apparently the US Government doesn't think Felipe gets enough Mexican food at home.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do
In an amazing bit of irony, Google announced this week that it is closing its online store and is discontinuing the online sale of its Nexus One cell phone.

Conclusive Proof That The Ad Contrarian Is The Best-Spelled Ad Blog On the Web!
Yesterday was a good day for Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. They won the Chevy account. It was a bad day for blogger spelling. In reporting the story, AdPulp misspelled Goodby and AdScam misspelled Silverstein.

It's a good thing Messner Vetere Berger McNamee and Schmetterer didn't win it. Which reminds me, maybe what's wrong with the ad business these days is that all the silly names are contrived. They used to be real.

And one more thing. Misspell always looks misspelled.

No Comment
Anything I say about the following story is bound to get me in trouble with someone, so I'm just going to report the facts: According to an iVillage survey of 2,000 married women, 63 percent would rather sleep, watch a movie or read than have sex.

It's Friday... have a drink and try to forget all this crap.

May 20, 2010

Why Creatives Are Always Confused

As you stroll the halls of an ad agency you often encounter people wearing baseball caps, wandering aimlessly and muttering to themselves.

We call these people "creatives." They are the ones who make the ads.

They are always confused. Here's why.

They are pressured by their leaders to do "great" work. But when they do, they usually get reprimanded for not being "on strategy."

They are encouraged to win awards. But when they do, they are dismissed as childish narcissists.

They are highly paid, but rarely listened to.

They are told that it's "all about the work" but come to learn that it's "all about the metrics" or "all about the relationship" or "all about the conversation" or "all about" whatever the cliche-of-the-month is.

When they say advertising is an art, their clients say it's a business.

When they say it's a business, their clients say it's an art.

When they finally get something good produced, it fails.

When they produce mundane crap, it works.

When their friends like it, their clients hate it.

When their clients like it, their friends hate it.

They are encouraged to be collaborative. But the more people touch their work, the worse it gets.

They are counseled against becoming prima donnas. But they see that the people who get good jobs are often disagreeable monsters.

If they weren't confused they'd be crazy.

May 19, 2010

Is Bill Gates Still Stunned?

From, January 2007
Bill Gates: Internet Will Revolutionize Television
DAVOS, Switzerland —  The Internet is set to revolutionize television within five years, due to an explosion of online video content and the merging of PCs and TV sets, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said on Saturday.
"I'm stunned how people aren't seeing that with TV, in five years from now, people will laugh at what we've had"
Well, Bill, it's 2010. We're about 70% of the way there and I don't hear any laughing.

The untold story of the past ten years is how astonishingly powerful television has been.

Despite all the predictions of its demise, television viewing is stronger than ever.
  • TV viewership has grown between 9% and 20% since 2000 (depending on whose numbers you like best)
  • 99% of all video viewing is still done on a television. 1% is done on a computer
  • TiVo and all other DVR devices account for only 5-6% of viewing
  • TiVo has had no discernible effect on ad effectiveness or consumer buying behavior
  • Self-reported tales of "I never watch tv anymore" are all bullshit 
  • TV viewership is at its highest point ever in history
As we have said many times, marketers always overestimate the appeal of new things and always underestimate the power of traditional consumer behavior.

Here's a chart describing the growth of TV ownership.

 And here's a little inside info for the next web maniac who's planning to write about the death of TV: People like it.

Yesterday I wrote a snotty post about Portland. Portlanders are such nice people, I didn't even get one comment from there calling me jerk.

Thanks to Steve Olenski and Tore Claesson for some of today's links
Chart from Business Insider

May 18, 2010

When White People Run Wild

My daughter goes to school in Portland, OR and I've been spending some time there.

Portland is a lovely city with nice people. But it's an extreme case of what happens when white people are allowed to run wild without the palliative effect of other races.

First you notice that there are way too many bicycles clogging up the roads. And that every bicycle rider has one of those pointy-headed space-age helmets even though they're traveling at an infuriating 4 miles an hour.

Tattoos are apparently required by law, as are facial piercings. These often serve as personality substitutes.

Everything is either sustainable or said to be so (note to overly-fervent environmentalists: The second law of thermodynamics predicts that the universe is subject to something called entropy, which is pretty solid confirmation that nothing is sustainable. But we'll leave that for another day.)

And speaking of sustainability, citizens of Portland seem to have unrealistically high confidence in the resiliency of their lung tissue, as they smoke cigarets with alarming enthusiasm.

The most successful enterprises in Portland appear to be second-hand clothing stores, second-hand furniture stores, and food carts (aka, roach coaches.)

Of course, the Northwest coffee fetish is well-represented and there seems to be a coffee shop-to-inhabitant ratio of 3-to-1.

Now don't get me wrong.  I like Portland, and some of my best friends are white. It's just that these people actually put pineapple on their pizza. This is an abomination that a more diverse citizenry would never abide.

Fashion Tips For Portlanders:

For Gals: Unless you're headed to women's volleyball practice, sweatpants in the evening are a fashion no-no. Take a look around you. Sweatpants are mostly the domain of fat guys with disagreeable rashes.

For Guys: Your soul patch is way too big. It shouldn't be covering your entire chin. Check out Dizzy. This is the way you wear a soul patch. I know you're trying to look like a hip jazz player, but you look more like a clueless relief pitcher.

On The Other Hand... French toast anywhere: Pazzo Ristorante, corner Broadway and Washington.

May 17, 2010

Five More Things Everyone Is Wrong About

After about a hundred years in advertising, there are still things that continue to amaze me.
  • How much we don't know 
  • How the business is still driven primarily by legends and rituals
  • How specious opinions about advertising become facts when repeated enough times by self-promoting loudmouths at worthless conferences
A little over a year ago I wrote a piece called "Facts Still Matter: The Death and Life of Television." The thrust of the piece was about the resilience of TV.

In that piece, I quoted a study done at Ball State University. The study was particularly interesting to me because instead of relying on self-reported data (which is the basis of most media studies and is totally unreliable) they followed people around and watched actual behavior.

The results of the study were eye-opening and completely repudiated the claims of the "television is dead/the 30-second spot is dead/the web has changed everything" crowd who have hustled and bullied their way into the forefront of marketing thinking.

More results from this study have been released and they are equally remarkable. Here are some of the findings:
1. The vast majority of viewers don't leave the room or change the channel when the TV program they are watching goes to commercial
"86% of viewers remain with live TV during commercials..."
2. The rate of channel surfing is essentially the same during commercials as it is programming
"11% of viewers change channels during the four minutes of TV programming before the commercial break; only 14% change channels during commercials; and 13% change channels in the four-minute period after programming returns. "
3. The rate of getting up from the room and leaving is essentially identical during the program and during the spots
"19% change rooms in the four minutes before a commercial break; 20% during; and 21% in the four minutes after programming returns."
4. The two most prevalent multi-tasking activities that go on during TV watching have nothing to do with the web
"Concurrent activities are led by “care of another,” at 12% in the two minutes prior to and during commercial breaks; and “meal preparation,” at 8%..."
5. The rate of multi-tasking does not increase during commercial breaks. In fact, compared to the 2 minutes before a commercial break, multi-tasking actually decreases by 1 percent during commercials
Next time some digi-dork vomits up the old "no one watches commercials anymore" line, smack him in the head for me.

More on this subject later this week

May 13, 2010

What Is Evil?

In my hometown, Oakland, CA a few weeks ago, Jin Cheng Yu, 27, and his 59-year old father were walking down a street.

For no reason, two men approached Jin and started punching him. When his father interceded on his behalf the two men beat him to death.

A few days later, the lawyer for one of the accused stated, "this is not a murder case...(my client) is not an evil person."


I wonder what it takes to be considered an evil person by a lawyer?

If beating someone to death for no reason in broad daylight in the middle of a street doesn't do it, what does it take, counselor?

May 12, 2010

The One Thing You Can Never Believe: People

From the Economist... of the oddest and most consistent findings of television research: that people seem unaware of their own behaviour. In surveys they almost always underestimate how much television they watch, and greatly overstate the extent to which they watch video in any other form (See chart below -- TAC). In particular, they underestimate their consumption of live television... a 27-year-old man, claimed to watch recorded television 90% of the time. In fact he watched live TV 69% of the time.

Efforts to improve the TV-watching experience have often gone wrong because they took people at their word. The past ten years have seen a parade of websites and set-top boxes—Apple TV, Boxee, Joost, Roku—offering a huge range of content and interactive features. All promised to deliver TV the way people (that is, individuals) really want it.... Efforts to turn TVs into personal e-mail devices and home-shopping outlets have fared no better. “The killer application on television turns out to be television,” says Richard Lindsay-Davies, CEO of the Digital TV Group.

Thanks to Howie Goldfarb for this.

May 11, 2010

Nothing Human Works As Advertised

I'm astonished when people are surprised at the failures of capitalism, or socialism, or communism.

I'm amazed when people are stunned that Democratic policies don't work. Or Republican policies. Or liberal policies, or conservative policies.

I'm astounded when people express dismay that Wall Street is stupid, or government is wasteful.

I laugh when I hear people complain that economists were wrong, or that an education scheme didn't pan out, or that a social policy had the opposite of its intended effect.

How much history do you have to read until you realize that there is no right way to do things, just different wrong ways? How many failures does it take to realize that systems devised by humans never work as advertised?

The longer a system survives, the more obvious its flaws become. It's like the slight wobble of a top. The longer it spins the worse it gets.

The best we can do is to identify the systems that wobble the least.

May 10, 2010

Going Through Life Rolling My Eyes

"The new consumer psychology on the rise around the world is one of networks and prioritization, of explicitly pricing in consequences and externalities, and of giving more than lip service to being resourceful and vigilant about downside risks. This is the global zeitgeist now aborning." 
Run for your lives! There's a global zeitgeist aborning!
This lovely gobbledy-gook comes to us from a "critical piece of research" conducted by The Future's Company and the 4A's called "A Darwinian Gale."

I can't imagine this nonsense is "critical" to anyone other than someone who really needs a nap. 

It uses about 20 pages of charts and graphs and marketing hoo-hah to tell us what everybody with a semi-functioning cerebral cortex already knows -- people are becoming more thoughtful with their money.

I tried to read it this weekend. Here's what I learned:
"We're entering an "era of consequences."
Apparently in the past our actions didn't have consequences.
"Spending is based on prioritization and trade-offs"
Also, in the past we just spent our money willy-nilly.
"Consumers are rethinking the definition of value to better fit in a world in which economic risk can no longer be indulged or ignored and embracing a more responsible approach to shopping and buying."
Oh, so economically strapped consumers don't want to piss their money away on crap? Who'd a thunk it?
"The future will see a proliferating mosaic of ever-more eclectic consumer strategies and solutions for building satisfying lifestyles."
And who among us doesn't enjoy a good proliferating mosaic?
In a recovery consumer marketplace... being average will be exceptional.
Which is just about the best example of a contradiction in terms I have ever encountered.

A commenter on this blog recently wrote that we marketing people "take the obvious and make it incomprehensible."

This piece of "research" is Exhibit A.

Just One More Thing...
...what in the world does "explicitly pricing in consequences and externalities" mean?

And Just Another More Thing...
..what the hell is a Darwinian Gale?

May 05, 2010

Not Following The Herd

A few days ago I was reading a blog I often read called "If This Is A Blog Then What's Christmas?" The post I was reading was called What Can Moneyball Teach Us About Advertising? It seemed to me that I had written a very similar post about the book "Moneyball" a few years ago. I went back into my archives and found that I had written it in July of 2008, but apparently never posted it. So I'm posting it today. It makes a nice companion to the piece mentioned above.

The best book I ever read about advertising wasn't about advertising. It was about baseball.

It was called Moneyball, by Michael Lewis. If you are in marketing or advertising you should read this book.

The premise of the book is that baseball insiders are guilty of a herd mentality that is focused on the wrong things and reaches the wrong conclusions.

The book is centered on Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A's. The A's have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, and yet, have won more regular season baseball games since 2002 than any team other than the Yankees (Note: In 2008 when I wrote this, it was true - TAC.)

How they do this is by ignoring the conventional wisdom (i.e., bullshit) that permeates their business. They have developed their own principles about what makes a ballplayer valuable. And they follow these principles regardless of what the herd thinks.

As I read the book I marveled at the parallels to advertising.

There is an ossified aristocracy of advertising insiders -- just pick up any issue of Ad Age or Adweek to find out who they are -- who keep repeating the same dreadful cliches about "engagement" and "conversations" and "media neutrality" and "touchpoints" and "disruption" and "integration"... ad nauseum. And the herd follows.

The hard part is getting beyond the mind-numbing double-talk of the trend-setters and developing your own principles. (And here's a tip -- if you can't express it plain English, it's not a principle. It's jargon.)

I bought a copy of Moneyball for each of our managers and gave them an assignment to read it. We examined what we really believed about advertising and put it down in writing. This helped us develop 3 guiding principles by which we create advertising (you can find them here.)

We may not be the smartest people in the world, but at least we know what we're doing and why we do it. And it's different from anyone else.

I highly recommend this exercise.

May 04, 2010

The Power of Specificity

There are a lot of good Italian restaurants in my neighborhood. But I go to one regularly because I love the bread.

My favorite sneakers aren't the ones that look the nicest or absorb shock the best. They're the ones that are the widest.

My favorite recording isn't of the best song I ever heard, or have best vocal I ever heard, but it does have my favorite sax solo.

The point is -- like most people -- when I have a preference, it is usually for a very specific reason.

And yet, throughout my career one of toughest things I have had to do is to convince my clients to be more specific.

Many have a hard time understanding that "we answer on the first ring" is a more powerful statement than "world class service."

They don't believe that "50 dollars off" is a stronger motivator than "we'll make your dreams come true."

Many have thought that the bigger and more ambiguous the promise, the bigger the payoff.

It is usually the opposite. The more specific the promise, the more believable the proposition.

May 03, 2010

The Demise Of Advertising

One of these day I'm going to write a book about the demise of advertising.  It will start like this:
Once upon a time, advertising people decided that they no longer wanted to sell things. Instead, they decided it would be more fun to be amateur psychoanalysts.
And so, instead of making ads about the attributes of the products they were selling, they started making ads about the imagined psychological profiles of their customers.
I was reading an article from USA Today recently about a new ad campaign for a large company whose name I'm not going to tell you yet.

The reason I'm not going to tell you is that I want you to look at the target definition and tell me if you can figure out what these people are selling. Or even what category they are competing in. Presumably a target definition is something specific and relevant to the product you're peddling. Otherwise, why do it? 
...we focus on a target audience based on a psychographic profile. Our target ... is the everyday hero and they share five core values: family first, work-life balance, self knowledge and fulfillment, spirit of independence and fun and enjoyment. The other thing we know about (them) is they take great pride in staying true to themselves..
I've seen this exact same baloney on about a thousand creative briefs. What it really means is, our target audience is just like our account planners!

So here's what I want to know. Who are they not targeting? Who doesn't...
a. put family first
b. want work-life balance
c. seek self-knowledge and fulfillment
d. have a spirit of independence
e. seek fun and enjoyment.
f. take great pride in staying true to themselves
If you're a creative and you want to do good work, the only way to deal with nonsense like this is to burn it. Then try to find something interesting to say about the product.

Next, what do you think these people are selling? Cars? Lipstick? Golf clubs? Running shoes? Clothing? Beer? Vitamin water? Organic foods? Life insurance? Underwear?

The company is Holiday Inn.

Here's some free advice. I've been to a Holiday Inn recently.  I didn't see too many people wandering around looking for "self-knowledge and fulfillment."

Mostly they were looking for clean towels and a bucket of ice.