James Watt, I Kind Of Agree With You, But Ultimately, You're Wrong

You might have seen this article in Marketing, where BrewDog founder James Watt is quoted as having said this about traditional advertising:
I would rather take my money and set fire to it... It's the antithesis of everything we stand for and everything we believe in. It's a medium that is shallow, it's fake and we want nothing to do with it.'  
You know what? When you look at most advertising, at face value it is shallow and fake, and on top of that, I'd add a bit shit. In fact I'd say at a guess, in terms of quantity in the public domain, 99% of advertising fits that description.

Going to a lot of ad agencies is the equivalent of burning your money.

But, the thing is, advertising isn't a medium, and it's passive.

It doesn't force you to be one thing or another.

Advertising is simply the act of talking to people.

What you do with that opportunity is entirely up to you.

You can be shallow and fake, or you can choose to be truthful and honest.

You can use advertising to accurately depict your company, your products, your philosophy.

You can use it to engage the audience in the same way as if you were in the room talking to them.

You can present real and honest reasons and arguments for them to consider your products.

Unfortunately, not many people do.

So 'advertising' as a whole becomes tarnished with the failings of the way it tends to be used.

But when you do do honest, truthful, intelligent, engaging advertising, people tend to really appreciate it, like it even. It stands out a mile. It works, too.

Ask me how I know.

The problem is, if you can only think of shallow and fake things to do in advertising, then you probably think it's only possible for advertising to be shallow and fake.


  1. Early to bed. Early to rise. Work like Hell. And advertise.

    Alright, ye few ad industry people who still have a lick of sense, who said it? If the correct answer does not appear by tomorrow, I shall take a lengthy constitutional off of the nearest length-challenged pier.

  2. This quote is often attributed to Laurence Peter or Ted Turner, both of whom popularized it, but it was used in the Ford Times in 1911, before either of those gentlemen were born. 'Most Ford dealers took seriously the advice given in Ford Times in 1911, "Early to bed and early to rise. Work like hell and advertise." From "Henry Ford and Grass-roots America" by Reynold M. Wik, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1972, p. 35.

  3. he knows nothing about the power of advertising he has never done any! :)

  4. That a very measured response to James Watt. Having just watched the Super Bowls ads I get what he is saying too. and to be honest many others too. But baby and bath water applies here I think.