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Rubio’s Letter

Ralph, Marc, Frank, Ken, Karin and Mike:

At last week’s presentation, Ron Shaich asked a good question, “What makes you think advertising works, and can work for this brand?”

Even if the intent in asking it were partly cynical, treating it as a cynical question would be a mistake. As would answering it with some sort of formulaic, power point, flow chart presentation culminating in a shot of the McDonald’s “Over 8 trillion served” sign. After all, advertising’s value, effectiveness, methods, motives and, yes, purpose, have been scrutinized for years…by some very smart people.

How does one defend something that is so often defined by what it is not? Not art. Not science. Not entertainment. Not to be trusted. Because even though that wasn’t the question, all of that is called into question by the asking of it.

Howard Gossage, a brilliant marketing mind who introduced Marshall McLuhan to the world and whose historic San Francisco firehouse office we now occupy, spent some time (his whole career, really) answering Ron’s question in a pretty fantastic way. One of his most famous quotes is: “Nobody reads advertising. People read what interests them; sometimes it’s an ad.”

That insight is critical to making advertising that works. The principles, spirit and inventiveness necessary to solve problems and engage people, are all subjects of this book. Please enjoy these rare copies with our warmest regards. We are grateful for the four-plus years we’ve had working with you, and grateful for the opportunity to come in and show you what we’d recommend you do in the future.

No matter what, we wish you luck. That was Howard Gossage’s middle name, by the way.

Engine Company 1