How bad can advertising get?  How bad can graffiti get?  We all like to notice and talk about award winning television spots, high production value and good direction.  We love it when we do good work and it gets noticed.  The other stuff that gets noticed are the really bad spots­—the spots for the screaming car dealer and the clucking chicken jeweler.  But who cares? Are they really hurting anything?

People will invariably say that the spots must be good because they work, or they wouldn’t be running them.  What’s working is the media weight. Viewers are forced to notice the spots. But it’s like graffiti in a neighborhood that’s trying to clean itself up.  You don’t notice the good spots because the bad ones are screaming so loud.  But then any good media planner knows that when creative is this bad, you have to make up the difference with GRPs.  The 1984 Apple spot introducing the MAC only had to air once.

Advertisers either forget, or never knew, that a brand is actually a reputation—their reputation. When a company goes to the trouble and expense of making a television commercial, they should do it with the intent of making something to be proud of.  And, when they make commercials that are really, really bad, it reflects on their entire category.  Just like a one-dollar hamburger devalues fast food, clucking jewelers devalue diamonds.  It’s like graffiti in a neighborhood trying to clean itself up.  Everybody’s property value drops.