I always thought it would be fun to have the job of food critic. I could visit as many restaurants as I wanted on someone else’s expense account and then write about what I like and, more importantly, what I thought should be better.

Now I’m not so certain that I’d like that job. The first problem is that I like almost everything. At the very least, I like something about almost everything. Regarding that repulsive, slimy piece of liver – at least it wasn’t too salty. The second problem is that I don’t like to criticize. As my mom always said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

So much for a career as a food critic. Instead, along with my colleagues, we have built a bit of a reputation as tourism marketers, brand builders and occasional bloggers. Still, we resist the temptation to criticize. For one thing it’s unprofessional as an ad agency to build yourself up by putting others down. We have witnessed it in our industry but we simply will not take the low road. Period.

As a blogger who writes about brands, campaigns and news of the industry, we could probably be granted a little latitude to offer an observation on a brand strategy or tactic gone wrong. Maybe use it as a teachable moment. I definitely see many campaigns and strategies that don’t appeal to me personally. I resist criticizing (most of the time), especially branding initiatives, for one simple reason: I was not privy to the research, goals and client conversations that lead to the final product. If I can’t relate to a brand’s messaging it’s probably because I’m not the target demographic. I have to assume that they did some research and aren’t just shooting from the hip. The research must have steered them a certain way. It’s also possible that the client – or more likely a committee – heavily influenced the final product. I definitely know what that can do to a brand. There is also a point at which research has to be interpreted and turned into a creative message. Maybe that’s where a project goes off the rails and deserves much criticism. The point is that without knowing what they had to work with and what their goal was, it’s tough to criticize a branding initiative.

It turns out that mom was right. Again.


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