Mad Men's Guide to Advertising as Marketing of Last Resort


Dino DoganEditor’s Note: Today’s fabulous topic is from “Dino Dogan” who is the landlord at DIYBlogger.NET, a writer, biker, dog trainer, singer/songwriter, and a kick-ass Martial Artist (Wait did he missed anything else). He is currently hard at work on the Human-Dog Problem Tree; a thesis in human-dog relationship. You can find him at Twitter or visit DIYBlogger.NET.




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And this what he said:

Mad Men’s Guide to Advertising as Marketing of Last Resort


I want to share with you a long held fallacy that advertising is effective. Its not.

How can I be so sure?

The myth of advertising as an effective means of gaining new business is based on the fact that some people, in some way, at least to some extent can visibly measure the positive effect advertising has on their product.


If advertising is not showing any effect on sales, then the explanation is that you need different advertising.

How convenient.

So how come advertising is so prevalent?

Long held beliefs are hard to shake.

When a business is starting out and trying to acquire initial funds, investors and bankers alike expect to see advertising budget as part to of the initial budget proposal.

Established businesses have a gay ol’ time rubbing elbows with the likes of Don Draper so they continue to include advertising budget as part of their yearly projections.

Did you know: Advertising budgets have doubled every decade since 1976. Source: Marketing Madness (Amazon Affiliate Link)


What’s a Good Copy Worth?

Copy, for the uninitiated, is any text that tries to get you to buy something. Whenever you see a pizza ad, someone had to sit down and write whatever the ad (or person) is saying. In advertising vernacular, that piece of text is called a copy.

So what IS a good copy worth?

Information Resources studied the effect of advertising and concluded that “the relationship between high copy scores and increase sales is tenuous at best”.
They were being generous.

C’mon Dino…we need advertising. It makes the world go ‘round.

Consider this.

Costco’s approach to advertising is to spend exactly $0.00 on it. And yet, they continue to outperform Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club year after year.


Here is a fascinating case study, but first, watch this.

[Direct link to video]

Foote, Cone and Belding (a marketing company) produced one of the most memorable ads ever created in their 1980s campaign for The California Raisin Advisory Board.

With the annual budget of over $40 million, the dancing raisins managed to generate nearly $200 million in revenue via the sales of secondary products (dolls, mugs, T-Shirts, etc.)

The sales of raisins skyrocketed as well, at first. Mostly due to breakfast cereal manufacturers who jumped on the bandwagon and increased the number of raisins in their cereals and joined in the advertising.

And then came the crash all tumblin’ down.

After four years, the dancing raisin campaign was discontinued and the sales of raisins were lower than before the campaign started (Forbes, June 17, 1996). The California Raisin Advisory Board was abolished shortly thereafter.


But this proves that advertising works, no?

Maybe, if you have $40 mil, but otherwise, no.

  1. First, this is a hugely popular campaign. One of the best known and most effective campaigns ever produced by an ad agency, and yet…
  2. The revenue was generated through the sales of secondary products (dolls, mugs, T-Shirts, etc.)
  3. The sales of actual raisins went up because the product (raisins) had a B2B (Business to Business) component (the manufacturers of cereal).

So ask yourself.

  1. Can I generate a hugely successful, viral campaign?
  2. Do I have secondary products to sell?
  3. Do I sell directly to consumer or B2B, or both?

If history is any indication, this would be as easy as catching a lighting in a jar, only to have the jar implode after 4 years.

Additional consideration.

Are you a CEO of a giant company and therefore interested only in short term profit generation or are you trying to build a long-lasting relationship with your customers?

Only you know the answer.


The material and stats for this article have been liberally pilfered from the most excellent book on marketing called Marketing Without Advertising (Amazon Affiliate Link) by Michael Phillips and Salli Rasberry.

How much does your business spend on advertising?

How to you measure its effectives?

Have you considered alternatives?

In Category: Articles, Guest Posts
Show 10 Comments
  • @dealsosweet June 13, 2012, 11:05 pm

    the writer obviously has no clue.

    have you ever talked to a business owner who meticulously tracks where their new customers first heard about their business and what caused them to come in? clearly the answer is no. most businesses know exactly how effective each ad campaign has been within at least a ballpark range. that’s how they know what avenues to pursue again next time. and with the rise of e-commerce this clarity has become like crystal.

    and fyi “copy” (not “a copy”) is not just a term limited to the advertising world. the reason there might not be a correlation between great copy and great sales is because a lot of the time the numbers do the talking. if i told you “i given u me bike for $20” or “you can have this stellar mountain bike with full suspension for $3,000,” chances are you fork over $20 before you would even consider handing me a thick wad of 100s.

    if your article was comment baiting, congratulations it worked.

  • Constantin Gabor May 13, 2011, 1:04 pm

     Since in a few years, most of the ads will be delivered via web (even if they’re on TV) and most of the purchases will be done online – there are good times ahead for advertisers.

    While the Mad Men era was one of talent and inspiration (The Big Idea), the world of  online advertising is open for many more – can u design? yes! can you code an interactive ad/game? yes! can u fail 10 times and improve based on what’s working? (are u wiling to test a lot?) yes! Welcome – you may be a great advertiser. Don’t need to be Donald Draper anymore.

    And the story goes on – are a nice guy that has a presence online? yes! cool – that’s your unique advertising that no one can steal from you. :-)

    Gotta put my hand on that book!

    Thanks, Dino!

  • Jaluzele Exterioare March 23, 2011, 10:12 am

    How do I put the iLike from Facebook, u also have it on your site

  • custom essays February 22, 2011, 3:39 pm

    Very interesting information! and the video is very positive =) Thanks!

  • Jeff January 18, 2011, 3:39 pm

    It’s a rare day when I have to vehemently disagree with Dino, but this is one of them. Yes, Virginia, advertising does work. Marlboro cigarettes didn’t instantly displace the leading brands of cigarettes, practically overnight, to become the worlds’ best selling brand simply out of luck. Nor was it because their product was demonstrably superior. It was the advertisements. Ever hear of the Marlboro Man?

    Any argument which says, in essence, that “because ads don’t always work they therefore never work” is, to put it kindly, a rather foolish argument. Of course advertising doesn’t always work. What does? But, yes, an intelligent, well thought out campaign can and does work.

    I personally work with any number of small to mid-size, local and regional businesses that have experienced dramatic growth as a direct result of intelligent advertising. And I’m not talking about Websites, PPC, and Social Media campaigns (though they played their roles as well) – I’m talking about good old-fashioned mass media advertising.

    – Jeff

    • Dino Dogan January 18, 2011, 3:50 pm

      Did you know that the original Marlboro man was in fact a woman? Marlboro cigs were originally advertised to females. I find little factoids like that fascinating.

      Heres a little known secret about me. I love people who disagree with me :-)

      • Jeff January 19, 2011, 1:53 am

        Hey, Dino,

        Thanks for the reply. Yes, Marlboro was originally a woman’s cig, back when manly men wouldn’t dream of smoking a filtered cigarette. When smokers became concerned for their health and men were finally willing to consider a filtered smoke, Marlboro grabbed the market by going all-out with a virile, image-based branding campaign. It worked like gang-busters. That campaign is often quoted as the canonical example of branding success, even to the point of being used by the great David Ogilvy himself.

        What’s an even less-known fact is that Marlboro has been using a direct mail campaign to retain it’s most loyal smokers for several years now, to even better effect. So whether you’re a branding guy or a DM guy, I think it’s safe to say that advertising works.

        But to your point, Dino, the better your product, and the more naturally remarkable your product and user experience, the less advertising you need, and the better the advertising you do use will end up working for you.

        Oddly enough, I made a very similar point to your post a few years ago, back when I blogged for Future Now:

        Anywho, as I mentioned in my earlier comment, I rarely disagree with you Dino, and usually find much of what you have to say, right on the money. Keep blogging my friend…

        – Jeff

      • Ruhani Rabin January 19, 2011, 5:26 am

        Very nice insight @Jeff . Thanks for sharing :) I didn’t knew some of the things you’ve mentioned.

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