People don’t hate advertising, they hate bad advertising

Advertising gets a bad rap. Not that much of it isn’t deserved. There’s a lot of crap advertising that interrupts our day. Local car dealers must think this is their mission in life. They are far from alone. There is so much feature-driven advertising out there that wants our attention but gives us very little reason to care.

What does it mean to give us a reason to care? I love what Google did to show us why they do what they do in a piece called Dear Sophie. If at some point during this piece you don’t smile, laugh, or tear up, you need to check your pulse. Imagine if all advertising had to live up to this standard.

Bad advertising drains our precious cognitive energy

Over the past decades, we have been subject to an ever-increasing flow of information. This has increased the cognitive load for all of us. I wrote about this in a recent post:

The increased burden on our decision-making mechanism means that we either need to ignore information or expend more of our energy digesting the information. It does take energy. Something we have a finite quantity of in any given day. Processing this expanded amount of information can lead to decision fatigue. In his book Thinking, Fast And Slow, The Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman sheds light on the idea of the energy required for us to make conscious decisions in what he labels as System 2 mode of thought. In processing information, this energy is what we physiologically expend.

Bad advertising does nothing but add to the cognitive load that we are dealing with. It’s one more thing that we need to choose to ignore. That drains our precious cognitive energy that has more demands on it than ever before.

We need advertising with a brand purpose

What can brand purpose do for your advertising and the cognitive load of your audience? I’ll go back to that recent post:

Discovering and defining a purpose helps brands thrive in this challenging environment. It gives all our audiences an immediate, relevant, and compelling reason to engage. This helps mitigate the cognitive stress everyone is experiencing. It is easier to “pay” attention when we clearly recognize the value our attention is buying. Most importantly, it has staying power, giving it a better chance to remain top of mind. Because a brand purpose goes beyond delivering something that people are interested in to delivering something that people care about.

Advertising is not the problem. It’s bad advertising that’s sucking our precious energy. We all love great stories. Finding a brand purpose helps us get to those great stories that make for great advertising.