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The End of Advertising As We Know It

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The End of Advertising As We Know It


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Traditional advertising may be dead, but marketing, branding, celebrity endorsements, public relations, targeted consumers, hyped-up employees and the push to sell are all still alive and kicking.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Deeply informed by his marketing experience at Coca-Cola, Sergio Zyman knows advertising theories, but he doesn’t like them. He is marketing’s angry child, shouting, "Traditional advertising just isn’t working." He delights in hurling stones at traditional advertising icons, including "brand awareness," which may get your product considered, but will not guarantee a sale or an increase in sales. For sales heft, he postulates, position your product to be relevant to the consumer. Build this "brand relevance," then start working on media buzz. He compliments his own marketing expertise, but who wants a shy promoter? He says corporations waste ad dollars, so if you work in a traditional glass-house advertising agency, you won’t feel too secure when you see angry kid Zyman picking up a rock. His targets, according to, are people who work in Madison Avenue glass houses, and those who hire them.


Who Murdered Advertising?

Most advertising executives don’t understand that traditional advertising, which primarily entertains, doesn’t work. Moreover, most ads are designed to increase awareness - and awareness does not get you sales. Companies that don’t get wise to this will fail. Business people don’t understand what advertising is. They think it’s a thirty-second movie, a TV spot or perhaps a newspaper ad. In fact, advertising is everything that reflects on your service or product. Everything you do that communicates something about your brand to prospective customers - from the look of your office to the morale of your employees to the packaging of your product and the tie or scarf you wear to work in the morning - actually is a form of advertising. With all the image ads out there, people forget that the purpose of an ad is to sell more stuff to more customers, and to make more money doing it. Instead of focusing on their clients’ customers, ad agencies and executives often fall in love with themselves and their clever ideas. The reasons advertising isn’t working include:

  • The myth of ad agency genius - Ad agencies lure companies with promises they can...

About the Author

Sergio Zyman, who holds an MBA from Harvard, headed an team of expert marketers at Coca-Cola. After he left Coke, he wrote The End of Marketing As We Know It (2000), stating his views on getting your message out (i.e. "Marketing isn’t about trinkets and trash; it’s about selling. It’s not an art; it’s a science"). He subsequently founded the Zyman Marketing Group, which handles banking, video, telecommunications and sports clients through three U.S. offices.

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