I was in the first year of my first job with a Chicago ad agency 22 years ago, and I remember the moment vividly. I had just been in a meeting with a car dealer in Illinois and he’d raised concerns about the effectiveness of the media plan we had in place. The meeting ended with him telling us he was canceling his buys.
My team and I returned to the agency, where our owner was waiting for us. He’d received a voicemail from the dealer and his plans to cancel advertising. He listened to our version of the meeting and simply said, “you need to defend advertising and why we do it.” He then dialed the dealer on speaker phone, exchanged pleasantries, and had the following conversation, as best I can remember it:
Agency Owner: I understand that you don’t believe your advertising is working?
Dealer: Yes, I told your team the media plan isn’t working.
Agency Owner: Why do you believe that?
Dealer: (Manufacturer) offers are weak, store traffic is low, and sales are slow.
Agency Owner: Are your offers worse than other manufacturers?
Dealer: Not really, we’re all in the same boat with financing and leases.
Agency Owner: Well, Mr. (Dealer), you could hold the spend until a better price message is available, or use the media to highlight your store’s brand and service.
Dealer: I told you, I think the media plan is the problem.
Agency Owner: Sir, I promise you the media is doing its job.
Dealer: But it’s not, or I would see some increase in traffic.
Agency Owner: Okay, how about I buy a couple of your outdoor boards for one month, and I’ll run the message, “Free Cars This Month Only at (Dealer)”
Dealer:(Laughs) That would be crazy, I can’t have people coming in for free cars!
Agency Owner: You’ll have nothing to worry about if nobody sees the boards!
Dealer:(Pause, but still laughing) Point taken, I’ll stick with the media and see if I can get a better message from (Manufacturer).
Agency Owner: Thanks, (Dealer). And my team will continue to negotiate the best space for you. Have a great day.
After hanging up, the owner looked at us and said, “Advertising will always work, as long as we give it the chance. We need a relevant message, connective creative, and showcase space to let it work.”
Matt brings extensive advertising industry experience to LEAD Marketing Agency with expertise in delivering a positive return on investment, through strategic account planning and management and media planning, buying, and measurement.