There is no doubt that the dolphin is a fish!  It swims all the time; it can’t live on land; it has no legs; it has fins; it lives in the ocean – without a doubt it is a fish.

That is to say, if it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it must be a duck.  Appearances cannot lie.

I have seen a lot of stuff that passes for advertising.  Like a dolphin passes for being a fish, or at least superficially.

For example, a print ad that has a headline, that has a main graphic, that even has body copy.  Like the dolphin that has all the elements of being a fish; it looks like an ad.

But is it really?

There are a lot of things that superficially look like they are the real thing. But just aren’t.

How can we tell when something is real.  Often we cannot.  We have to trust an expert.

Experts are folks who have experience in a field, are educated to the nuances and conventions of the field.  And in the case of advertising, they know what works.  In a field as competitive as advertising, you don’t get to stay around unless you have a track record that produces results.

Which is a paradox of the advertising industry.  Everyone looks to youth to bring new perspectives.  But often these are without discipline and don’t produce results.  Given the rampant need for different, the whole industry sometimes wanders off in a dead end direction.

For some reason with advertising, everyone thinks that they are experts.  The way they are experts at movies, music and Monday morning sports analysis.  But with movies, music and sports teams, few try their hand.

Advertising creation, on the other hand, is accessible to any retailer or middle manager, even though they lack an understanding of the technical underpinnings that is required to make great advertising.  they are designing a fish and ending up with a dolphin.  They love to have their hand in the process, but like the horse designed by committee that came out a camel, effectiveness is not often the end result.

So, what’s the damage in treating a dolphin as a fish?  Well you get into a lot of trouble when you try to catch them to eat.  And if you want to eat, you better know what a fish is.

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