Creating “good” Advertising

Anyone can create an ad.  But all you have to do is listen to the radio, or open a newspaper to see that not everyone can create a “good” ad.  What is a good ad?  Folks from many Atlanta advertising agencies will tell you that a good ad is one that people like, gets laughs, or wins awards.  But of course, there is more to it.  The ad has to perform, doesn’t it?

The ad business changed for me the day I saw a well known Atlanta advertising agency (well, well known at the time — they are no longer in existence) win an award for The Atlanta Ballet.

Actually, it wasn’t just one award.  They won many awards for this campaign, in many shows.  So why should I care?  First of all, The Atlanta Ballet was the first account I ever worked on.  The campaign I created for them years before had pulled them out of the red, and increased their subscribers from 700 to almost 6000 in three years.  At the same time, the campaign won a number of awards, including a Clio and Cannes Lion.

But fast forward to years later, and here is a campaign that actually made fun of ballet dancers, and touted that patrons would enjoy the performance of Swan Lake because they’d be able to see ballet dancers die.  Having worked on this account, I know how offended season subscribers would be, and the subscribers were essential to the survival of the ballet company.  Let me just say that the subscribers were furious, the Marketing Director was fired, and so was the agency.  And no, the campaign did not sell tickets.  But it did win awards.

I haven’t entered an award show since.  However, I still believe in memorable, clever, creative advertising — but for the sake of effectiveness, not the sake of awards.

Julie Burmeister is the Creative Director of The Burmeister Group, an Atlanta advertising agency known for generating outstanding  results for its clients.