Have you committed the ‘original sin’ of marketing?

Take a bite, only if you dare.

Take a bite, only if you dare.

We’ve all seen them.

THOSE ads. THOSE TV spots, brochures, websites, blogs and tweets. The ones where you zone out part way through—or worse yet, turn or click away almost immediately.

They’ve lost you, because they’re sinners, all of them. Committers of the original sin of marketing. What is that?

In a word: Vanity.

They LOVE themselves… or their product… or their service. And they think marketing is the fine art of boring us all to death by talking endlessly about it.

The term “original sin of marketing” is one I dusted off from some old copywriting books. It’s an awesome term. But I think a more modern way to express this concept would be to call it the “bad date syndrome.”

We’ve all experienced our share of those. Spending an evening with someone who has absolutely no interest in you or what you think. It’s all about them, their thoughts, their opinions. You hardly get a word in edgewise, and by the evening’s end, you’re praying for your Shrimp Diablo to give you food poisoning, so you can finally free yourself.

It reminds you of the old joke: But enough about me. What do YOU think about me?

Corporate ads are guilty of original sin a lot…


This ad, from Boeing, touts and shouts about its 777 aircraft. An incredibly innovative achievement in engineering, for sure. The imagery and design, especially at full size, is striking. Then comes the headline: Far and away, the best. OK, date over. My Shrimp Diablo is crawling back up my esophagus.

Now, compare this concept to a recent one by Apple, also promoting a product steeped in engineering prowess…


Apple Mini Ad


This ad for the iPad Mini appeared on the back cover of the New Yorker magazine. It features the cover of the magazine on the Mini’s screen—an awesome way to show someone how they can enjoy the content they love on this nifty little device. Shall we set our second date now?

As an agency, we’ve run into original sin/bad date thinking a number of times. It usually starts with the client saying something like, “No one knows who we are or what we do.” We understand, really, we do. Every business feels this way at one point or another—even the big boys.

But trying to force people to notice you almost always backfires. And when any communication comes across braggy, it’s hard for people to see past that. Often, it gives you the type of attention you really don’t want.

Remember, your client can very likely live without you. But without your customers, you’d last about three days in that desert before the buzzards started circling. So, if you’re trying to connect with them, if you want them to remember something about you and ultimately buy something from you—simply ask yourself: What’s in it for them?

Then, take your place among the repented.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group.

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