Who are you really creating advertising for?

I’ve recently come to notice that lots of really great campaigns that I know about due to the fact that I work in the industry fly completely under the radar of most people I know. I find it curious that these really cool and creative campaigns can be completely invisible to so many consumers.

The example I will use for this post is the energy drink Samedi. (there are, of course, many other examples of this)

Firstly I personally think the campaign for this energy drink is awesome. I honestly think it is a really cool and different approach and it ticks all the boxes for me in terms of generating interest and making me want to go out and find out what its all about. On top of that, it had a great content deal with MTV and a pretty decent website.

However when I mentioned this campaign to my friends 95% of them had the same response “never heard of it.” (The one friend who had seen it said they thought the campaign was “shit”) So this begs the question, what is it about this concept that didn’t click with consumers? Was the creative too adult and risky for the media buy? (it features a lot of imagery that is suggestive of violence) Was it the media buy itself, too little frequency, wrong time frame?

Now, for all I know the drink may be selling thousands of units and this campaign may have been deemed a success and I’m not proposing to have spoken to thousands of consumers in a systematic fashion. However, I would imagine, that my friends and I are target audience, we’re socially active twentysomethings that enjoy partying and all things “hip and groovy”. So if we have never seen (or noticed) the campaign, why not? My only exposure to this campaign was being pointed there by a coworker when the campaign first launched.

To me this kind of thing is indicative of advertisers who create campaigns for advertisers. It is easy for both creative and media folk (I feel the boundaries are getting ever more blurry, but that’s a subject for another post) when creating and planning work that they love, to lose site of what they’re really there to do.
Sell shit. At the end of a day, thats what advertising is meant to do. We can flap on about audience sentiment and all the warm and fluffy feelings in the world, but at the end of a day I can love a brand and still not want to buy what they’re selling.

An ad can be the most beautiful and mesmerizing thing on earth, but if I get to the end and cant remember what I was meant to buy is it really worth the clients dollars?

I’d love to know what others think of this, or if I am just being short sighted?

Does anyone out there have any case studies where a campaign has received praise and acclaim from media circles but failed to deliver on the metrics that matter?