Brewer's Droop #278

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The advertising industry is in big trouble. It seems to be on a suicide mission assisted by those young people with pimples who think they know best but who, in fact, know little about calculating reach and frequency and other analyses and ably assisted of course by our Military Junta.

I’d like to take a glance at both.

Advertising, by it’s very nature, is intrusive. It often gets in the way. And although many criticise the process it sometimes has very noble or important things to say.

There are many but here are a few:

The announcement of a new product/service.
The announcement of a price change.
To beg (as in charity).
To remind (“power cuts from 14:00 to 16:30 – turn off major appliances”).
To prompt (as in “your account requires settling”).
To legalise (like filing for divorce or bankruptcy).
To seek help (“I’ve lost my dog”).
To offer help (“I just found a dog”).
To warn (as in inoculations against measles).
To sell.
To buy.

You get the idea.

Older admen talk about the “good old days” which, whilst they were fun, weren’t doing their jobs very well in hindsight because they didn’t have the choices we had later (which has all changed of course).

There is, and always will be, huge “wastage” when the wrong market sees an ad. And because there were far fewer media opportunities, that happened a lot. But that pales into insignificance when compared to the wastage seen today. I think we did better before because we had “instinct” – all they have today are automated calculations based on that an untrained operator feeds in.

Consider the state of the media.

Advertisers have jumped the traditional advertising ships such as newspapers and magazines like fleas off a dead dog.

So what are we left with?

Radio. It works but, for some reason, there have been very few good radio producers in SA.

Newspapers. Forget. In fact expect more closures any day now.

Magazines. There are a few that will just about survive – but not many.

Cinema. Has always remained static.

TV. Well, the SABC is a disaster. There are other networks and, at a rough guess I reckon I have access to many, many thousands of channels on different platforms. What this means, of course, is that you cannot accurately estimate who or how big your audience will be.

Social media. I thought it was cheap. Wrong. An Estate Agent told me recently that his advertising budget has more than doubled since he started using an online advertising platform.

Social Media is like the parson’s egg – good in places and disgusting in others.

With a few (very few) exceptions it disseminates fake news, hate, racism extreme irritation and basically rubbish. A handful of our very good writers get published on the internet from time to time but who knows how many take any notice? Oh sure, the 22 year old “analyst” will tell you Max du Preez had a million “clicks” but what does that mean? Just about nothing.

When we were producing the All Media Products Survey (AMPS) there were 35,000 interviews done annually. Face to face interviews, about 30 to 45 minutes long. We knew the gender, the area in which they lived, their race, whether they smoked or drank alcohol, which magazines/newspapers/tv programmes they liked, what their favourite hair shampoo was and so much, much more.

Now all an advertiser knows is that he had a “click” on his ad.

Progress? I think not.

Social media started killing traditional media before the CoronaVirus but the writing was on the wall. Then came the lock-down – the nail in the coffin.

Following decisions by Associated Press and Caxton, the following magazines are now shut down. Finished.


House & Leisure
Good Housekeeping
Women on Wheels


Farmer’s Weekly
Food & Home
Living & Loving
Rooi Rose
Country Life
Garden & Home
Woman & Home
Your Family

There are others and even more on their heels.

And soon several newspapers will follow. Mark my words.

Anyway, now on to Cyril’s Circus.

Well, I don’t think the Python writers could have come up with the hysterical nonsense that we’ve been living with.

Much wittier writers than I have had their say on the idiotic behaviour of our government but many of their decisions leave me speechless. Not just me either because the incredulity is now global. We’re the laughing stock of the world (well, we would be if it wasn’t so serious). Banning of the sale of open-toe sandals and long shorts (short shorts are okay). Arresting a guy because he took his 10 month year old baby for a quick walk on the beach.

Oh dear Cyril, what ARE you doing? You’re far from being a stupid man and much, much more clever than me – so why behave like a clown and vote for incredibly crazy rules? You were the country’s hero. Now you’re the butt of a thousand jokes.

I think it’s time you took yourself and your cabal back to the circus. You could also fire a couple of ministers – that might help.



(Please feel free to forward this link to anyone you think may be interested).

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  1. Brilliantly put, Chris, as always!

    • Thank you Rebecca


  2. Excellent Chris – you should write a book.

    • I did once – UNISA used it. Yay!

  3. And it will only get worse for Agencies, who still don’t recognize the fact that the market has moved on, got more sophisticated and is immune to 30 second adverts. Such adverts both TV and radio have also been so dumbed down as to being an insult to the average consumer’s intellect. Worse, now they are chucked Willy nilly onto digital media as well. I often watch/listen in dismay, feeling that 30 seconds of my life has just been stolen. The medium may be in crisis, but the message has to all intents and purposes got lost!

  4. Apologies for the rant btw, Chris.

    • Rant away Harry! Always good to hear from you.

      Hope life’s good to you after the agency world (which still misses you by the way).

  5. Ahhh the good old days when audiences were more clearly defined and most folk were capable of crunching the numbers. Pimply pen pushers pffffttt

    • Agree totally!

      Hope you’re keeping well Andrew.

      Kindest regards,


  6. Thank Chris.

    Sadly, your commentary and points are probably all correct and show keen foresight.

    Today the Ad Industry needs bright , talented , dedicated and hardworking people more than ever to overcome the new communication truths and complications.

    Most of the many Ad people I worked with and knew, qualified in these terms and were proud to be part of this skilled , close knit Family. Ironically , the better you are at something and the harder you work at it , the more you find time to enjoy yourself , as we certainly did.

    The reality of the mess (who are our politicians) to which our country is subjected by the government is now bitterly clear to all those who are not one-eyed. This climate “allows” for more of the socialist/jackboot agenda to be displayed without much consideration being given to the “what happens after?” question.

    Take care and keep well

  7. Unfortunately in the herd-like human race to join the virtual world, we’re leaving the real world behind and with it the wonderful common sense stuff it taught us and what we all stood for.

  8. I was in auto marketing for +40 years. In the 80 and 90’s if I wanted to let the country know about something, common sense dictated the Sunday Times and Rapport for print. For TV, I pre-booked SABC prime time news. If you could get the first slot just before or after the headlines, that was gold.

    I figured that any wastage was more than made up by focus of funds into visibility rather than fragmentation. Helped my daughter with her mini thesis project for her digital marketing refresher course and we cracked 80% as the communication rules were constant albeit with “pissing contest” jargon.

    But ifi were to apply it today in the real world, I would feel like I was boxing in the dark on a roulette table. At least in the casino you get immediate accurate feedback of how you spent your money.

  9. Why should I forward crap about people my age knowing nothing according to you who probably dont know what theyre talking about.

    • Oh go outside and play with the other children.

    • How eloquently you proved Chris’s point!

  10. I agree in terms of social media advertising, it’s not all it’s cut out to be, and there is a lot of wastage as well.
    Digital Marketing, on the other hand, is GOLD. Not only do you segment your audience – like in the good old days – by age, gender, race etc., but now by “tribe” – so I’m a female 50-odd who loves Monty Python and can sing along with Pink Floyd, I’ll get the same advertising as a 30 year old male with the same tastes. It’s not getting worse, guys, it’s getting better.
    Have a look at something called Inbound Marketing, then have a look at Suzuki’s growth over the last few years. (I’m not saying that’s all it’s due to, but it’s a big part.)

  11. Well written , Chris , enjoyed the read. I am not or never have been in advertising, but why is it that we recall older adverts ( Cremora ” its not inside its on top ” ) but nothing really of the more modern adverts ? Except Nando’s , of course mainly because they play on topical recent news.
    I guess because the more recent TV adverts are just not as good or informative as the older ones.
    Just my humble opinion !!!
    As far as Cyril is concerned ” Is the dog wagging the tail – or the tail wagging the dog ? “


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