Toe-To-Toe With Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman - Social Media Explorer
Toe-To-Toe With Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman
Toe-To-Toe With Ad Contrarian Bob Hoffman

At each of our Explore events, I schedule a Fireside Chat, interview-style session with a notable figure from the marketing industry. In Minneapolis last month, I had the honor of welcoming Bob Hoffman, CEO of Hoffman-Lewis and The Ad Contrarian. He’s been mightily critical of social media marketing and even digital marketing overall in the past and I thought it might be fun to bring an outside-the-echo chamber perspective to the table.

While I thought we’d spar a bit more than we did, my Q&A with him was far too interesting to not share, so we recorded the session, captured here in its entirety, for your enjoyment.

My sincere thanks to Bob for being willing to come to a room full of social media enthusiasts and call bullshit on some of our stuff. It takes balls. And that’s why I love Bob and read everything he writes at Ad Contrarian. He’s raw, he’s honest and most of the time — as much as it pisses me off — he’s right.

Our next Explore — Orange County, Calif. — is Oct. 18-19. My Fireside Chat interview will be with Kred CEO Andrew Grill. I plan on throwing down on influencer identification and marketing, pressing Andrew on how it’s done, why it’s done and whether or not the tools are even useful at all in doing so. You can see that in person, along with R/GA’s Peter Kim, Edelman Digital’s Michael Brito and Tim Hayden, former Facebook executive Joseph Heinl, Expion’s Zena Weist, Edison Research’s Tom Webster and many more, including both me and Nichole Kelly from Social Media Explorer, by registering and coming to Explore Orange County.

(By the way – Use Promotional Code ILOVESME and save $200 on the registration fee!)

So, what did you think about Bob’s points? Is he right? Wrong? Nuts? The comments are yours.

About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at
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  • bad sound

  • Jimmy Moncrief

    WTF – Jason why did you let him ramble this idiocy!  People don’t want to engage with brands?!?!  @comcastcares @dell:disqus
     Billion dollar companies!  Oh that’s right – he has a blog – so he is in a unique position – I’ve built brands and companies using both approaches – this is crazy – he cusses and gets a lot of attention.

    • Thanks, Jimmy. Actually the more I read and listen to Bob, the more I tend to agree with a lot of his points. Sure, we can anecdotally point to case studies that are counter to his thoughts, I would argue that Comcast and Dell specifically aren’t case studies of people wanting to “engage” with brands. Those are case studies of people reaching out to those brands for customer service purposes. It’s technically engagement but more appropriately just CS through social channels.

      Bob is convinced because of decades of experience that product advertising moves purchase behavior best. And, well, he’s not wrong. He doesn’t say you shouldn’t use social, just that you should know where it fits.

    •  fail

      people don’t want to engage with brands

  • Erin McMahon

    Love this. I’m a fan of Ad Contrarian, fan of SME. And (ok not in all cases, but often) I think there’s not such a diametric opposition between the thought processes as some people suppose. 

    It seems to me that so often, folks get deep into the right ways / best practices / etc. for very specific social media tools or tactics that the bigger message (which some people include, and others do not) is overlooked and forgotten. And that (naturally) is IF you need this tool, IF this tactic fits your strategy, etc.

    My 2 cents anyway. Thanks for sharing the video – very insightful!

  • richardbagnall

    Hi Jason, Would love to watch this, but I just can’t hear it.  Are you able to re-edit the video and boost the volume??  Best as always, Richard

    • Strange, Richard. We don’t have volume issues on our machines. Have tried it on several. Certainly, there’s a disparity between the music intro and the actual conversation, but with some volume boost there (the music is only at the beginning and end) we hear it fine via speakers or headphones.

      • richardbagnall

        Thanks Jason, OK, I’ll have to put it down to ‘work-machine’ syndrome although was using headphones – will try again from home tonight with the big beat-box connected to the PC :-)

        • Thanks, brotha. We’ll make a note in the future – this was a first try and recording something from Explore. It was also last minute, so we hadn’t planned on having the audio pumped in, etc. We wanted to give people a little taste. Better planning will solve this in the future. Thanks for the understanding.

          • richardbagnall

            Cool.  Thanks for all the great content.  Hope to see you soon.

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Thanks Jason. The video is veyr useful. Keep up the good work.

  • You should have @12StarsMedia help you film these so we can hear them :) Actually I would love to have them transcribed and then you have the text to put into the blog as well. As you are well aware the Google machines like text a tad more than video. No way Im going to watch a 40 minute video but I will rifle through the transcription for sure. 

    • Fair. If you wanna get Bob’s unique take, the video is there. We typically don’t put any of our Explore content online, though, so this is a bit of a peek. That’s all.


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