CultureLeadershipManifestoMarketingPositioningProduct MarketingSaeedSocial MediaStrategyWorth Repeating

Worth Repeating: Do This or Die!

Given it’s Memorial Day in the US, here’s a small trip down memory lane. I originally posted it a couple of years ago, it’s definitely worth repeating While the manifesto about the need for truth in advertising is from the 1960s or 1970s it’s every bit as true today as it was back then, perhaps even moreso.

Enjoy, and for those in the US, have a great holiday.

dothisordie1A couple of days ago, I recommended one of my favorite radio programs — The Age of Persuasion — to all of you.

I also mentioned that that one of my favourite episodes is entitled “Do this or Die“.

The title of the episode refers to a print ad written back in the late 60s or early 70s that called the advertising and marketing industries to task for talking down or talking at their intended audience. It was a call to action to speak truthfully and to market products that are worthy of being marketed.

Today, there is a lot of hype around social media. YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace, blogs, flickr, podcasts, viral videos, online chat, you name it. There’s a lot of options out there. I actually heard a site referencing their corporate voicemail box as their “audio blog”.

People are claiming that all the old rules of marketing are changing. The names vary: social marketing, inbound marketing, viral marketing, word of mouth marketing etc. There are “new rules” for the “new media”.

I’ve even seen articles that use the phrase “Marketing 3.0“!


New media? Yes.

New rules? No.

New tactics? Absolutely, where necessary.

Read that great print ad from almost 40 years ago (text is below). Listen to the audio program from the Age of Persuasion.

They’re both great reminders that the fundamentals of marketing have not changed. The new media is an opportunity to remember and restore the old rules!

My favourite line from this manifesto?

Telling the truth about a product demands a product that’s worth telling the truth about.

What a great line. No pigs with lipstick allowed!

Here’s the full text. Enjoy.


Is this ad some kind of trick?

No. But it could have been.
And at exactly that point rests a do or die decision for American business.
We in advertising, together with our clients, have all the power and skill to trick people.

Or so we think. But we’re wrong.
We can’t fool any of the people any of the time.
There is indeed a twelve-year-old mentality in this country; every six-year-old has one.
We are a nation of smart people.
And most smart people ignore most advertising because most advertising ignores smart people.

Instead we talk to each other.
We debate endlessly about the medium and the message.
Nonsense. In advertising, the message itself is the message.
A blank page and a blank television screen are one and the same.
And above all, the messages we put on those pages and on those television screens must be the truth.
For if we play tricks with the truth, we die.

Now. The other side of the coin.
Telling the truth about a product demands a product that’s worth telling the truth about.

Sadly, so many products aren’t.
So many products don’t do anything better.
Or anything different.
So many don’t work quite right.
Or don’t last. Or simply don’t matter.

If we also play this trick, we also die.
Because advertising only helps a bad product fail faster.
No donkey chases the carrot forever.
He catches on. And quits.

That’s the lesson to remember.
Unless we do, we die.
Unless we change, the tidal wave of consumer indifference will wallop into the mountain of advertising and manufacturing drivel.
That day we die.

We’ll die in our marketplace.
On our shelves. In our gleaming packages of empty promises.
Not with a bang. Not with a whimper.
But by our own skilled hands.

Doyle Dane Bernbach Incorporated



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *