Home > Advertising & Marketing, Social Media > Advertising as Failure – an interesting perspective from Jeff Jarvis

Advertising as Failure – an interesting perspective from Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis has a provocative post from May 2009 titled Advertising as failure. The essence of Jarvis’ message is this:

  1. The ideal relationship of a company to its customer is direct, with no middleman
  2. Where you don’t have that good relationship, then you have to advertise to tell people something
  3. Therefore, in a very importance sense, Advertising is failure

A really simple insight, but for some reason it hit me like a ton of bricks. But it really speaks to my experience. The products or services that I really love, that I really value, don’t have to advertise to me. In a Google world, I find them and the communities that form around them.

In the following video, starting at around 15:10, Jarvis delivers a really powerful message on Advertising and Marketing:

Here’s a series of rapid-fire messages from Jarvis’ talk gets right to the heart of the matter:

  • If you think about advertising in one way, Advertising is failure
  • If the ideal is that you have a direct relationship and connection with your customer …
  • The ideal is that you have a product that’s so great that they (your customers) tell the world about it, they sell it for you …
  • The ideal is that they help each other and support each other in this product …
  • The ideal is that they trust you and know that you have a human voice and can talk to you …
  • The ideal is a direct relationship with this customer …
  • If all this is the ideal, then why would you advertise?
  • Because if the ideal is to be Google and hardly spend money at all and have a great product that people pass around, then advertising is failure.

That is just brilliant.

Now, as a caveat, Jarvis does say there are valid reason for advertising, for example: (i) nobody knows about my product, it’s brand new, (ii) I’ve had a problem and I fixed it and I’ve got to tell them, (iii) I have a new price and they should know that …

However, Jarvis concludes on the topic of Advertising:

Whatever it is you need to tell them, fine. But it is a fall from grace. Grace is they love me, they move my product, they talk about my product, they support my product, I made the product I wanted because I listened to them and I hear them because I have a relationship, then Advertising is failure.

A couple more recent related posts from Jarvis:

Great stuff.


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