What Makes Great Advertising?

by Holland-Mark | October 5, 2009

If you’re expecting a post about insightful strategy, a celebration of great design, or words that touch the soul, leave now. This post is about boobs.

More specifically, it’s about the troubling observation of fact that sometimes, a pair of fun bags beats a full house of all the things we celebrate here in the advertising blog-o-sphere.

At some level I am troubled by this. I am an enlightened man, an educated man. While I’m as curiously fascinated with the female form as any such man, I can say truthfully that I actively dislike the “Go Daddy” guy, and that I think his advertising diminishes us all.

He defends it in the context of four other “rules of entrepreneurship” in this piece, which I believe was originally titled, “Why I’m So Freaking Great, And You’re Not”:

Whatever, dude. Go knit yourself a Harley cozy.

But… dammit… from a 16% share of all new domain registrations to a 25% share of the same market, worldwide. Nine share points. Overnight. DAMN.

And thus my dilemma.

I think great advertising is advertising that delivers great results. Awards are nice (and I have a few, thank you), but we want to be an agency that — first and foremost — gets results. Period.

Does that mean, by our own definition, that this is great advertising? If we delivered something less offensive, and likely less effective, would we be breaking our own rules?

Now, don’t wimp out and give me that “Shock works for a while but great brands endure” stuff either. GoDaddy is still killing it, even after all this time.

So which is it? Is obvious crap like this “great” if it delivers the goods? Or is it always better to trade off business impact for work we and our fellow PBS-supporters can celebrate?