Who Is To Blame When Your Dumb-Assed Idea Bombs?

In a transparently desperate attempt to pander to social media's clickbait mentality, McDonald’s in Europe is offering a range of clothing and home decor items such as wallpaper and bedsheets imprinted with Big Macs. Perhaps it is one big joke, since on the site, the "share" button is right next to the order button. But one can't help but think of "dumb-assed idea" as an appropriate way to summarize this concept.

Now that viral is the coin of the realm, we are flooded daily with dumb-assed ideas perpetuated by agencies that are desperate to get their brands liked, linked, shared or somehow otherwise involved "in the conversation," whatever that has come to mean. It hardly seems to matter if the idea derives in any possible way from the brand identify (read: burgers vs. bed linen), as long as it gets attention. The core values associated with a brand seem to be summarily ignored in this race to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

What has happened to common sense and the courage to voice it in conference rooms, where somehow these inane ideas are greenlit? You get the impression that the 22-year-old inmates are now running the asylum, where their digitally dazed superiors, who are supposed to have the experience and judgment to say "I don't think so," yield to those who claim to know more about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Meerkat, Snapchat and BuzzFeed.



Was “Race” a great idea for Starbucks? Or was it such a pet of the CEO that it didn't matter how many underlings said that it was a dumb-assed idea in the planning?  But I suspect most dumb-assed ideas never get to the C suite.

Bad ideas are not restricted to online. Each year jaws drop at the stupidity of ads that now run well north of $5 million (for creative and media) in and around the Super Bowl. Yes -- that is a higher-risk, higher-reward bet, but at some point in the process, long before the air date, someone with a grain of common sense should have said: "That is a really dumb-assed idea."

I understand that it is possible to get caught up in the enthusiasm of others surrounding you who are cheerleading for a really bad idea, when you can be accused of "not getting it" or "not in the target demographic.” But if you really care about your clients, you have to fight the good fight and declare with finality: "That is a really dumb-assed idea."

Use the comment box below, and let's start a greatest hits list of really bad ideas, current or former, that should never have seen the light of day. My own goes on for days. To list them all would be, well, a dumb-assed idea.

1 comment about "Who Is To Blame When Your Dumb-Assed Idea Bombs?".
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  1. Tom Cunniff from Tom Cunniff, March 27, 2015 at 6:54 p.m.

    The pursuit of a mega "big idea" made complete sense when TV was at its zenith. You could make a decent-sized idea big by throwing more money at it, and you could make a great big idea huge by throwing even more money at it. Today, the media landscape is so radically reshaped that it no longer works the way it once did. Chasing a "big idea" is now often a complete waste of money at worst -- or depressingly ephemeral at best. Who among us remembers the Oreo moment at the Super Bowl or "Subservient Chicken" best? The people inside the industry who are tasked with creating such things. For the average consumer, these ideas are like shooting stars. We take brief notice of them, and then they are gone forever. Marketers must now return to fundamentals. Is the value of our product or service tightly aligned to what buyers need? Are we competing where we should play? Do we know how we plan to win? Is our value proposition obvious and compelling? These are the "big ideas" that matter most, and are most deserving a marketer's attention.

    There's a lot of chasing of marketing with a lower case "m" instead of Marketing with a capital "M", It's the difference between tiny communications notions and real business ideas that genuinely drive sales and profits.

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