Where Jerry Seinfeld got it Right…and Wrong.
Steven Morris’ Reflections on Seinfeld’s honorary Clio speech.
Over the past weekend a long-time colleague shared on Facebook the Jerry Seinfeld acceptance speech for his honorary Clio for work he’s done over the years in advertising. The speech was funny, as you would expect, but it also had a tone of brutal truth that Jerry did not shy away from.
He opened with the catching line “I love advertising because I love lying.” As he said this, my eyes rolled skyward with a moment of gratitude that I’m not in advertising.
What Jerry got right.
Jerry was right on many fronts. Advertising does sell over-promised products that far too often fall short of the claims made in the ads and thus, disappoint consumers. The gift of momentary happiness is sometimes delivered in the anticipation of the promised new products being advertised and that momentary happiness can be better than the actual product.
Seinfeld also highlighted the debacle that happened at the 1991 Clio Awards, when greedy attendees rushed the stage in a mad grab for Clios they hadn’t won. He was also right in that many people in the ad business have deep cravings for awards that mean something only to their peers—meaningless to clients and their customers.
What Jerry got wrong.
“We know the product is going to stink…We all believe, ‘Hey, maybe this one won’t stink.’ We are a hopeful species. Stupid but hopeful. But we’re happy in that moment between the commercial and the purchase,” Seinfeld said.
In our work at Mth Degree we call the connection between a product offering and what the product actually delivers a brand promise. Done poorly, you get exactly what Jerry describes: disappointment.
Done well, however, you can actually deliver delight to customers. This, I believe, is where the worlds of branding and marketing divide from advertising. The main role of traditional advertising that Jerry took rightful swings at are aimed at disrupting the consumer. Disruption adds no value and inherently overpromises.
Our job and approach at Mth Degree is the converse. We work closely with our partners to help mine a meaningful brand promise, among other foundational attributes of a brand platform, and ensure that the promise is aligned with what the product delivers. When a purchase takes place, this creates brand loyalty and ultimately happy, delighted, loyal customers.
Steve can help you create an integrated belief-driven business that can reach and align with more of the right people —employees, customers, donors and investors—in a sustainable and meaningful way.