Advertising Can’t Save NY businesses
Published: May 19th, 2015
By: Tom Morgan

The Governor has gurgled more of your money down the toilet. So says NY’s Comptroller.

The Comptroller audited Gov. Cuomo’s “Start Up NY” campaign. It has run for 18 months. It will draw new businesses to the state like moths to a light bulb. So figured the Governor. He assured us his campaign is a “game changer”.

The Comptroller wonders what game the Governor is playing on us. The program spent over $200 million advertising the state to businesses. Ah, but the spending lured virtually no new businesses. And created virtually no new jobs.

And gollee, here is such a co-incidence! Lots of the ads for the program just happened to run on NY television. Just before the election campaign. That would be the campaign for Governor Cuomo’s election.

You can easily guess why the ads ran just before the election. You might ponder a larger question: Why run ads IN the state? When the business guys you want to lure live OUT of the state?

Thus the campaign violates a basic rule of advertising: Target. If you want to hit home with housewives run your ads in women’s magazines. Not in Wrestling Weekly.

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The campaign also ignores another basic rule in advertising. This takes a bit of explaining.

Many of us believe advertising will turn a lousy product into a success. It will persuade people to buy junk. So the product stinks? Nothing a great ad campaign cannot overcome. Not true.

Good advertising makes more people aware of a product, yes. But if the product is lousy the advertising hastens its failure. Because it introduces hoards of people to its shortcomings. They tell the world. And the product launch takes on water.

If you don’t believe this, Google the story of the Edsel car flop. Or study the advertising of movies. And Broadway shows. The ads could win Oscars and Tonys. While the shows they hawked closed within days.

Now I do not believe NY is lousy, junk or stinks. However, it is not a great place for businesses. The state wins prizes for highest taxes. For the most regulations. For various obstacles to business success.

True, it has many virtues. But we are talking business here. Too many businesses find the state unattractive. And so, many leave. Many expand elsewhere. Many avoid coming to the state.

In several ways the state is the Edsel of business communities. Ford spent millions to introduce that car. It was one of the biggest product launches ever. It inspired millions to look closely at the car. Overnight. And overnight they rejected it.

No doubt the Governor’s big promotion inspires countless entrepreneurs to look closely at NY. At its regulations. Its taxes. The extra costs of doing business here compared with other states. They see, for instance, the Governor is today pushing for higher and higher wages. On top of other high costs for labor.

Bottom line is that the business guys do not like what they see.

Ford Motors learned from the Edsel debacle. It learned to listen to customers. To hear what they wanted in cars. And to listen less to what its engineers and marketing guys wanted.

The Governor and other politicians would do well to copy this. Business people have screamed for years about conditions in the state. Some have bellowed nasty insults as they departed. Or closed.

If the politicians would only hear the messages… Truly hear them.

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From in Morgan.