“We now have a large body of very confused people in advertising”

Advertising guru Bob Hoffman tells Campaign Middle East that the industry is no longer run by craftspeople but financial experts

“Craftspeople understand the value of simplicity. Sadly, the advertising industry is no longer run by craftspeople. It is now run largely by financial people sitting in very large corporate board rooms,” American advertising guru Bob Hoffman told me during a recent interview.

The outspoken advertising guru is a big fan of simplicity. He quotes Leonardo da Vinci’s who famously asserted that ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’

“Sadly, this principle is lost on a new generation of creative, media, and branding executives.  What financial people do is make businesses more profitable by creating ‘efficiencies’. In other words, advertising has been ‘industrialised’ and is now optimised for efficiency rather than craftsmanship,” he added.

He believes this ascension of finance over craftsmanship has lead to a reluctance by talented creative people, who understand that simplicity is the key to effective communication, to enter advertising.

“The surfeit of new media has lead to confusion about efficiencies versus effectiveness. The net effect is that we now have a large body of very confused people in advertising. Their contribution is to complicate the s**t out of everything”.

 Hoffman is the author of Amazon best-selling books Advertising For Skeptics and ADSCAM and regularly writes his The Ad Contrarian newsletter.

His current role is ‘Chief Aggravation Officer’ at agency Type A Group. “My job is to make marketers uncomfortable – in colloquial terms, to aggravate them.  As a writer, my only value resides in my ability to help people see things differently. If I am restating ideas and opinions that are widely held, I am not providing value”.