The Art of the Make-Good

My wife, the decorator, lives in a world of precise measurement, where fabric can cost literally $1,000 a yard and there is wallpaper that you don’t want to know about. Remember when Dennis Kozlowski, the Tyco CEO, went down in court and there were accusations that he spent $6,000 for a shower curtain? My wife says she’s made more expensive ones. Anyway, before I invoke the — “but-I-digress” line — let’s just assume that when you are designing window treatments (never call em curtains) you can’t screw up or you wind up eating the mistake. Measure twice, cut once. Etc..

My house is furnished with expensive mistakes. This is not a bad thing. I get nice furniture out of the deal, but someone had to pay for them and it wasn’t the client.

One of the subcontractors that my wife works with is a company called Terranova. They do stone work — installing kitchen counters, marble floors, etc.. They mess up and they earn the nickname “Do-It-Over”

In the advertising world, a “do-it-over” is known as a make-good. Let’s look at the circumstances that result in a make-good. First off, the advertising agency buys the media — this is their life’s blood — they get a 15% commission and they tend to monitor their buys very carefully. Let’s say they represent a vodka company and they buy a full-page ad in a magazine. The magazine’s ad trafficker books the insertion order, slots the ad in the appropriate place in the magazine (front of the book, back of the book, rear inside cover, etc.). The editorial team, which is zealously separated from the ad side, writes a story about Mothers Against Drunk Driving and as chance and Mr. Murphy would have it, that story runs across from the vodka ad. Oops. Do it over, client wants a make-good. Run an ad for an airline on the same page as a story about the tragic plunge that killed 300 people flying over Dubuque. Make-good.

Agencies live to detect make-good situations. They can pull the wings off of a publisher like you would not believe.

I need to back up and look at some make-good scenarios.

1. The ad was badly trafficked. In other words, it showed up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Client wants it day-parted, ie shown only during business hours in Europe, but instead the impressions happened in the middle of the night. This is why you see lots of ads for laxatives, adult diapers, and the AARP during the evening; fast food and dating hotlines at 2 am; pampers and cleaning products at 10 am. Show a Viagra ad at 10 am during the prime mother’s hour and you won’t be nearly as effective as you would showing the ad on Sunday afternoon during the ball game. So — mess up the insertion order, and make-goods happen.

2. Bad proximity. This is the bane of the news world. This is the scenario above. Book a Ticket on the Airplane ads don’t do well next to plane crash stories. Booze and stories about rehab and cirrhosis don’t mix.
What inspires this post? Can’t say, only to note that I had a fire in my inbox at 6 am involving an online ad appearing next to unclad women thanks to a screw up in an ad network which shall go unnamed. The make good was an additional 4 million impressions which is like offering another serving of mussels to the guy who just claimed the restaurant nearly killed him with food poisoning.

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