Most marketing is a waste of time and money

May 1, 2019

Drummond Central managing director Dan Appleby gives his thoughts on why most marketing fails and how businesses can use that to their advantage

Anyone who knows me will tell you just how much I love what I do.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with colleagues and clients who’ve worked tirelessly to get the right marketing messages in front of the right people, at the right time.

I’m now privileged to lead a team of more than 50 talented, passionate, smart and creative people at Drummond Central and I’m so proud of the work we produce and the results we achieve with our clients. In fact, in nearly 20 years in marketing, I’ve yet to meet anyone who got into the sector with the ambition to produce ineffective work.

Still, I can’t help feeling like the majority of marketing produced is a bit, well, sh*t.

If you’ve ever been mercilessly stalked online by a desperate banner ad screaming at you to buy a pair of trainers, even though you bought a similar pair only a few weeks ago, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

We’re bombarded by marketing messages (1000s every day depending on which source you believe) that fail to even register with us. This is marketing that simply goes unnoticed and in the words of legendary adman, Bill Bernbach, “If no one notices your advertising, everything else is academic.”

According to Professor Byron Sharp (author of How Brands Grow), as little as 16 per cent of all advertising is both remembered and correctly attributed to the right brand. And that’s before considering whether the advertising actually persuaded someone to do anything. In 2018, nearly £20 billion was spent on marketing and advertising in the UK. That’s a lot of money being wasted.

To make matters worse, people are actively paying to avoid what we produce. Netflix now has nearly 140 million users, Spotify has more than 83 million premium members and GlobalWebIndex say that 47 per cent of people worldwide ‘sometimes’ block ads online.

But in this world of stretched marketing budgets, fiercely competitive sectors, a seemingly infinite range of platforms and channels in the marketing mix, and empowered audiences who can choose and dictate what they see, there’s still hope. More than that, there’s opportunity. Because if most marketing is rubbish, then doing it better will bring huge value and return on investment to businesses in the North East.

In a sea of mediocre sameness and beige marketing, there’s a real opportunity to use creativity as a powerful force for business growth. In fact, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising found that creative marketing can amplify effectiveness by a factor of 11.

And here’s the really good news. We already have everything we need in the North East to help us be more creative. I regularly meet people and businesses that inspire me with their successes and their ambition. We’ve got blue-chip corporates, disruptive ambitious start-ups, market leaders and challengers across so many industries – all with interesting stories to tell; it’s a marketer’s dream.

By using the tools, platforms and channels properly, we have the opportunity to make sure we’re targeting the right people with those interesting messages. And that’s how we can make our budgets work harder and our marketing more efficient and effective.

If we can do that, our marketing has the chance to change people’s behaviour. To persuade, to sell, to transform businesses. Because surely, that’s why we got into this in the first place?

Drummond Central
Drummond Central is an award- winning creative marketing agency that helps ambitious businesses out-think, outshine and outperform the competition.

Scroll to next article
Go to

Managing global disruption and disintegration