Since When Did “Advertising” Become a Dirty Word?

PACE_advertising wordAdvertising Age posed that question recently in a thought-provoking piece of the same title. We’ll share a few excerpts here, but we encourage you to read the whole piece on ( It’s a good, entertaining read.


PACE_bad-wordsInterestingly, we asked a very similar question over a year ago, in a piece written by PACE CEO Rick Nulman titled, “Why Did Advertising Become a 4-Letter Word?” Here’s what Rick had to say:

If you hate advertising, you’re going to love this sales pitch:

A wise man once said that marketing is one of those soft sciences where all you need to be an expert is an opinion. And ‘advertising’? Well, some say advertising is an old-school word that no longer defines what our industry does. It’s not advertising. It’s ‘marketing communications.’ It’s not salesmanship. It’s ‘building brand leadership’.

PACE_HorsefeathersHorsefeathers! We believe you need more than an opinion and the latest buzzwords in your vocabulary to do what we do. We believe you need talent, and creativity, and wisdom, and sound judgment, and objectivity, and unerring common sense, and a great sense of humor, and good old-fashioned salesmanship. David Ogilvy-style salesmanship.”



According to the Ad Age piece by Sean Cummins, advertising is a word we seldom hear anymore. Cummins traces the “de-advertising of the advertising industry back to that fateful day in the late 1990s when Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising changes its name to Saatchi & Saatchi Communications.” While our Rick Nulman laments the replacement of “advertising” with terms like “marketing communications” and “building brand leadership,” Cummins zeroes in on the new buzzword, “branded content.”

PACE_Branded Content

As Cummins says,

By removing the word ‘advertising’ from our industry, it effectively means that anyone with a camera device and a graphics package… can be in the industry formerly known as advertising. Because they are doing branded content.”

As Rick so classically put it, horsefeathers.

Cummins succinctly made this critical point:

Good advertising makes you do something – not passively sit and consume without any compulsion to do much other than ‘view’ or ‘like”… or ‘share.’ Advertising is a very powerful combination of communication, art, psychology and intuition. It is about selling. Not telling. And selling is a skill that requires a result – buying.”

AMENWe say a hearty AMEN to all of this.

We believe real advertising requires all those skills and traits that Rick pointed out: talent, creativity, wisdom, sound judgment, objectivity, unerring common sense, a great sense of humor, and good old-fashioned salesmanship. And because we believe all this, we believe we can help you do a better job than you could do yourselves, or with someone else.

PACE has a rare 65+ year history of successes. We bring extraordinary strategic, conceptual and implementation skills to our diverse client base – regardless of the media utilized. Websites, brochures, digital, mobile, print, TV, radio, identity, videos, eblasts, blogging, content marketing, SEO, apps, social media – we’ve spent our careers building our clients’ brands, and their sales.



So no more four-letter, dirty words. When you’re ready to reconsider your notion of “advertising,” let’s talk. We’d love to show you how truly effective real advertising can be for your business, your project or development, your hospital, or your organization.


Clients & Problems & Solutions, Oh My…

Mary Wells Lawrence
Advertising legend, Mary Wells Lawrence

“When a client comes to us with a product, he is, in effect, giving us a problem to be solved. … Some of the biggest advertising mistakes are people who imagine they know what the problem is, or they’re not even thinking about it; they’re just coming up with that brilliant idea and trying to force the problem to fit it.” (Mary Wells Lawrence)

What a great, insightful comment from legendary advertising executive, Mary Wells Lawrence. Lawrence was the founding president of Wells Rich Greene (WRG), an agency known for its creative, innovative, and revolutionary work. A bit of a revolutionary herself, Lawrence was the first female CEO of a company listed on the NY Stock Exchange. By 1969, she was reported to be the highest-paid executive in advertising. She was the youngest member to be inducted into the Copywriters Hall of Fame and inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame in 1999. Back in the day, major WRG clients included American Motors, Cadbury Schweppes, IBM, Pan American World Airways, Procter & Gamble and many others. Lawrence stepped down as CEO in 1990, and WRG officially ceased operations in 1998.

2000px-I_Love_New_York.svg-1If you haven’t heard of Ms. Lawrence, you’ve surely heard of some her agency’s notable campaigns, including: “Plop plop, fizz fizz” & “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” (Alka Seltzer), “I ♥NY,” “Trust the Midas Touch,” “At Ford, Quality is Job 1″ and “Flick your Bic.” 

But we digress. Back to the point of her comment! Lawrence keenly noted one of an agency’s biggest potential mistakes: failing to recognize the client’s real problem that needs to be solved. Maybe it comes by failing to truly listen to the client and her needs. Or maybe, as Lawrence points out, we think we know what the real problem is. Or we simply champion our own creative “solutions” and try to shoehorn the client into our work, instead of letting the work truly stem from an authentic understanding of the problem to be solved.

PACE_problem-solution-chalkboardAt PACE, we’ve learned that if we invest the time to truly listen to a client’s needs and challenges, we will understand the real problem that needs to be solved. If we invest the energy to look deeply enough into any project, we will uncover the defining essence or distinguishing vision that differentiates it, drives its activities, and provides the basis for a targeted campaign and creative solutions that match the client’s objectives and ultimately solve the problem at hand. Consequently, rather than reflecting our agency’s style, our work reflects each individual client’s vision and identity.

PACE_listenOver the years, we’ve developed client relationships that are earned, long-term engagements, because our efforts are devoted to achieving our clients’ objectives and exceeding their expectations. As a result, we have enjoyed many client relationships that span decades; a true rarity in the world of advertising.

If you have a branding or marketing challenge that’s keeping you up at night, or blocking your growth and potential, we’d love to talk with you, to listen, to get to heart of the problem – and to begin developing strategic, creative, and authentic solutions to help your company succeed.

As “Mad Men” Ends, a Final Flashback… and Some Interesting Flash Forwards

PACE_MadMen CastGoodbye, Don… goodbye, Peggy! This weekend marks the series finale of “Mad Men.” As we flash back one last time to advertising’s golden age, Advertising Age asked some current ad leaders (including WPP CEO Martin Sorrell) what the industry will look like in 2025. From the humorous to the unexpected, their responses are all very interesting speculations and projections about where the ad industry is heading. Click here to read the full article. Below, we share our WPP CEO Martin Sorrell’s predictions:



In 2025 the (fabulously entertaining) world described by ‘Mad Men’ will probably seem even more remote, anachronistic and misogynistic. We’ll no longer define ‘creativity’ in the limited sense of just art and copy, and technology, data and content will be so much a part of what we do that the word ‘digital’ will seem hopelessly quaint and narrow. We will be far more global in outlook (Mars, the moon?) and less Anglo-American, and there will be far more Peggy Olsons running agencies (along with people from more diverse backgrounds generally). By then, I also believe that chief financial officers and chief procurement officers will agree that marketing is an investment, not a cost.”

Going Native

PACE_nativeadvertising-01Call it “sponsored content”… call it “native advertising”… whatever you call it, there’s no denying that this type of paid content marketing is all the rage, as more and more companies and brands are utilizing it as part of their overall marketing strategy. In fact, investment in native ads is expected to triple between 2013 and 2015.

PACE_social iconsTo read more about the rapid growth of this new marketing channel, check out this good article from Krystal Overmyer on In it, she looks at the dramatic growth of native ads in 2014: over 850 brands purchased native ads in December on the top 100 consumer and B2B websites, compared to 688 brands that purchased native ads the previous July—representing a 24 percent increase in native ads between July and December 2014.

Native advertising refers to how companies work with online publications to create paid content that takes on the appearance of editorial or other content on that platform. As Overmyer explains, “native ads could include promoted tweets or suggested Facebook posts; it could also take the form of a 1,500-word piece on… the New York Times.”

Examples of different types of native advertising, courtesy of

Generally, companies expect and see better results with native ads than what they would get from more traditional display ads or other promotions. Native ads are more “readable” and easily shared across the internet. According to MediaRadar CEO and co-founder Todd Krizelman:

This has led to much higher response rates and improved aided and unaided brand awareness.”

It’s not really a new phenomenon – just reworked and reimagined for the digital age. In earlier times, “native advertising” was called “advertorial” – and at PACE, we’ve been offering it to clients for years as an effective additional strategy to complement marketing campaigns. Over the years, we have repeatedly heard from clients – particularly our real estate clients – who report that they have seen more traffic from customers who mention the “story they read in the Sunday paper” as opposed to the ad we placed. Today, we’ve adapted that strategy to apply to online publications, as well. Whether in print or online, whether you call it “advertorial” or “native advertising,” the content has to be good. It can’t just be fluff, but must give the reader something of interest and value, while effectively promoting the brand or business, as well.

We’re on board with native advertising at PACE, and ready to help your business tap into this hot marketing trend.

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