The Relentless Rise of Pig Ignorance

>>Yet another overpaid dick-head screws it up

There are many reasons why most marketing fails but one is quite remarkably frequent.

You may even have suffered from it yourself.

Three days ago I was talking to a friend who is one of the most competent people I know …

… But not so competent that he escaped the malign attentions of an overpaid corporate drone.

For 17 years he’s been doing training around the world for a leading global financial group.

His ratings for those trainings have never fallen below 90%.

Just think about that for a moment.

Over 90%, year after year after year.

Let me assure you: it’s amazing when you’re working with so many people of so many different cultures for so long.

Recently a new marketing director was appointed.

One of his first acts was to cancel those training programs.

If there is anything ruining marketing – and business – today it is that when people want to cut costs they cancel training.

I call it mortgaging your future to fund your present.

And if there’s anything else screwing things up it’s the way new marketing directors come in, want to make their mark and change everything the previous person was doing – good or bad.

Almost always without even trying to find out what was good or bad.

They’re like politicians. Not surprising because so many get to their position not through marketing talent but talent at internal politics.

Marty Stein, my American art director back in the 60’s told me a song they used to sing in Madison Ave.

“There’s a brown ring round his nose
And every day it grows and grows.”

But I digress.

I have seen this pattern – the new person changing everything, good or bad – so many times.

A firm I was working with got a new Marketing Director who, keen to demonstrate his brilliance, promptly cancelled the one essential their business depended on.

That one essential was a constant flow of good leads.

The constant flow in question was supplied by a mailing which my partner and I concocted about ten years ago.

That mailing ran for 8 years and was never beaten despite tests from various (frightfully “creative”, frightfully good at buying lunch and playing golf) agencies twice a year every year.

It led to not just millions but possibly billions of pounds worth of business.

They were in the shit within months.

Change for the sake of change is sheer insanity.

If you’re looking to improve on what you’re doing – Test.

Test the old idea against the new. Do not blindly jump in because you think it’s wonderful or you want to show off or some smoothie with a nicely trimmed beard convinces you it’s wonderful.

It is now a good century since Claude Hopkins started advocating testing. And about 80 years since John Caples started instituting organised testing.

But most people in marketing aren’t just ignorant of this essential discipline. They have never even heard of Hopkins or Caples.

You think I’m kidding?

For a while I did training for the Marketing Agencies Association. They train the best and the brightest.

Not one in 50 had heard of either of those names.

They’re the best? Imagine the average!

As I said at the top: pig ignorance.




About the Author


In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.

He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.

Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.

He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.


  1. Stephen Newdell

    I was thinking of this and you this morning. The old adage comes to mind: You get what you reward. So, we reward poor work and get more of it. We reward young people who know nothing of sales and marketing, and haven’t actually been on the street selling face-to-face. They’re arrogant and foolish and we reward them. Same for the politicos. The more incompetent and nasty they are the more reward they get. So far as I know the biggest change a marketing man ever made to politics was Clayton Makepeace writing for Ronald Reagan. Maybe you can start a blog or an on-line newspaper and say what you think to the general public. Challenge the propaganda and help make Britain a better country again. sn

    1. Drayton

      Actually several other people had a far greater impact on politics. killed Goldwater.
      Rosser Reeves did TV ads for Eisenhower.
      Hal Riney did amazing stuff for Reagan
      In the 1920’s Bruce Barton worked for Coolidge …
      Actually I did work for Major and Blair, but nothing important – just direct mail

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