In one of Roy H. Williams’ older Monday Morning Memos, he made a comparison I could never forget. According to him, in many ways, advertising life is very similar to professional sports. How?

The worlds of advertising and professional sports are both highly competitive and often cut-throat. New players are constantly entering the field, looking to grab the top spot. And just like in professional sports, advertising also has its own version of superstar athletes. Trust me, the hidden truth behind professional sports and advertising is graver than you might think.

While riddled with “injustice” all over, the point of this article is not to throw flak against both industries. Instead, we aim to uncover the grand illusion hailing over advertising through the lens of competitive sports. In this article, let’s take a look at one of the sporting world’s highest-paid superstars, Cristiano Ronaldo. More importantly, we’ll discover how your business could dominate your industry when you work with the Christiano Ronaldos of advertising.

Be patient, all these things will come full circle. You’ll see. Keep reading.

Christiano Ronaldo’s Numbers

Did you know that in 2021, Ronaldo made $120 million? That’s a massive chunk of cash, enough to survive a couple of lifetimes for the average North American. There’s just one caveat: not all pro athletes make that kind of money. In reality, only the top 10 percent of superstar athletes share 90 percent of all money paid to athletes.

Those B-class and regular team filler athletes share the remaining 10 percent amongst themselves. Even if you double the money these people receive and cut it back from superstars, they’ll barely feel the difference. That’s the harsh reality, but not for Ronaldo. He has a staggering $120 million in his name which equates to $462 thousand a day. That’s roughly $57,700 per hour.

Whereas, according to Roy H. Williams, the average soccer player makes only $80/hour which equates to $160 thousand per year. Worse, their playing time spans 3 years only, on average. Yes, yes, it’s sad but how is this relevant to advertising?

The better question is, what makes Ronaldo different from other players? Well, he’s been the face of some of the most popular ads in existence. Getting him on your advertisement results in a significant spike in sales and orders. That’s why he has tons of money, because he brings in loads of cash to businesses that he works with. Well, this is the comparison Williams made.

Advertisers are no different from professional athletes. Advertising experts who have made the most famous advertising campaigns tread the same route. They start with one or two good ads and then expand their repertoire by adding more creative and innovative ideas. From there, they build on their successes to create even better advertising campaigns that become household names. Williams added: “Everyone gets to play on game day, but only the best get paid on payday. 

There are many senior advertising experts around, but not all advertisements turn into a success and rake in the green. There are many factors at play, agreed. However, the advertising industry is always looking for that one big idea to take its campaigns to the high heavens. Sure, Ronaldo may play better than your average professional soccer player.

However, is he really 750 times better? Because that’s what his money suggests. Not necessarily, but plaster any other player’s name on your brand and you’ll hear crickets from a mile away. In the same way, hiring an industry-tested, genuine expert, with countless successful portfolios under their belt makes the difference. It’s not that these advertising experts are 750 times better. Heck, they probably even use the same set of words and language as your regular ad specialist.

The difference is Superstar Advertisers use angles, employ foils, juxtapositions, and craft better messaging that resonates with your market. That’s the difference. That’s our difference as the Wizards of Ads.

The Grand Illusion in Advertising

Now that’s out of the way, let’s press on and look at advertising’s grandest illusion. Business owners like yourself are predisposed to think that as long as you advertise, sales will eventually come in. That’s not even partly true. In fact, even the best advertising examples fail to champion businesses into sales bliss.

Entrepreneurs live in the grand illusion of advertising. Twelve different aspects pervade this phantom and I’ll break down each of them below.

1. Investing money ≠ gaining sales

You could’ve guessed this one. Advertising isn’t a magic wand you can wave around and watch customers materialize out of nowhere. Even if you had an advertising budget the size of Cristiano Ronaldo’s salary, there’s no guarantee it would be effective. Advertising is one of the most important – and complex – aspects of any business. It involves several processes:

  • Understanding your target audience
  • Coming up with a unique selling proposition
  • Finding the right channels to reach those customers; the most important yet
  • Working with the right advertising expert

You can spend a fortune on self-proclaimed experts in company advertisements only to gain mediocre and depressing results. It takes a truly experienced advertising wizard to take your marketing to the next level. Additionally, your set of advertisements is but one spoke in the wheel of your entire marketing strategy. A real marketer can help you perfect all fronts of your business and put it in the best position for sales to happen.

2. Three people are the principal culprits behind this illusion

When you think about it, three people perpetuate the scheme that spending on advertising equates to success.

  • First, the advertising salespeople. They have a knack for saying they have the right people you can target. According to them, the people you need for your business are within reach.
  • Second, the advertising agencies. These people overly rely on data and consumer targeting to get the job done. Many advertising agencies believe that they have the means always to find your customers wherever they hide. The worst of these hapless culprits? Digital marketers.
  • Finally, the hope-filled advertisers. Hope is a good tool, but hope in itself is not a strategy. This is where hope-filled advertisers fall short. They say the secret behind advertising success is reaching the right people, and that’s what they’ll do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these are unreliable entities for your advertising endeavors. I’m saying they don’t hit the right mark in producing advertising campaigns that make you a household name. Always remember that it’s never been the medium, and it never will be. In the words of Roy H. Williams: “The media doesn’t make the ad work. The ad makes the media work.

(I’ll explain this in the next point)

3. Reality: Message > Media

Advertisements don’t fail because they are reaching the wrong audience. It goes back to the fundamental truth that no man is an island. The wrong audience has friends, family, a barber, or a neighbor that may be the right audience. These are called “influencers.”

Influencers are people that will share your good news and evangelize your ad to the right audience. It’s never been about targeting. The deeper truth is that thousands of ads fail because they are saying the wrong stuff in their advertising. Your message is far more important than the media you use to deliver them. When advertisers don’t speak to the dog in the language of the dog, about things the dogs like, businesses only get bitten in the butt.

Your message will always be more important. The best ad people know how to articulate your message that persuades and compels audiences to buy your solutions. That’s irrespective of the media you use.

4. Truth: Targeting is a big buzzword built on a lie

Most advertisers want to enclose your business in a vacuum. What does this mean? You’re only advertising to people who have an interest in what you’re selling, right? That’s the idea behind ad targeting – and it’s a load of doo-doo.

Let me explain. Residential home services, for example, are not an “interest”. What you sell are externally triggered grudge purchases. This means that people buy your services because they have to. “My AC broke” “My heater’s not working” “My toilet won’t flush” Whatever it is, it happens at the most unexpected of times and nobody anticipates it.

Targeting limits your options to who has the problem at the given moment. Whereas when you reach out to the influencers, you expand your reach to people who may just experience the problem.

5. More Good News

In this day and age, advertising has become more refined than a shotgun approach. We now have the capability to target very specific audiences with our message. For example, Facebook allows advertisers to target people by interests, demographics, behaviors and even custom audiences.

The problem with this highly targeted approach is that it limits your reach. The better approach is untargeted media which reaches all potential influencers. Ever wonder why most major brands (toothpaste and soap) don’t use targeted advertising?

They go for reach because they want their product to be top of mind when anybody needs it. It’s the same for lots of industries like residential home services.

6. Bad News: We are desensitized by advertisements

Some experts say we are now so desensitized to advertising that it no longer works the way it used to. We’ve become immune to the hard sell. The constant barrage of marketing messages has made people more skeptical than ever before. Today, we encounter about 5 thousand ads on a daily basis and this causes us to block them out.

The good news is that advertising isn’t dead, it just needs to be approached in a different way. Instead of trying to pitch something like a bullet serve, advertising should bank on effective messaging. For example, on top of promoting conversions, you can also craft a message that forges relationships.

7. The opening line is as important as the body

When crafting ads, you should consider creating an opening line that pierces through the Sea of Sameness. This can be done by using humor, shock value, or even just creating something that makes people think. Your advertising should make people stop and think about what you’re saying. It should be interesting enough to make them want to learn more about your product or service. If your advertising is just a bunch of noise, people will tune it out and you’ll be wasting your money.

Think about the last time you saw an ad that made you stop and think. What was it about the ad that caught your attention? Was it the music? The images? The copy? I bet you it’s the headline that began the umph and the copy followed through.… and speaking of follow through.

8. Hang on to their attention

Your headline is only a single piece of the entire puzzle. If your headline is a head-turner but the body disappoints, you might as well not make the ad at all. Make sure every element of your ad is working together to create a cohesive whole. The colors, the images, the copy, and the headline should all be working together to deliver a clear message.

The key to dispelling the myth called ‘attention span’ is to leave out the boring bits.

9. Don’t produce ads that feel like ads

This is easier said than done, but it’s important nonetheless. People don’t like to be sold to, which is what makes advertising so difficult. No one wants to be bombarded with ads, especially when they’re just trying to relax and scroll through their feed. The key is to produce ads that feel organic and natural. The best way to do this is to create ads that tell a story or evoke an emotional response. If you can do this, then you’re on the right track.

After producing a copy, re-read, and put yourself in the position of your audience. Will they stop to read or listen? Or will they be itching to press “skip ad”? If the latter, cut out the parts that make your ads feel like an ad.

10. You have a brief moment to capture their attention

People love to keep their attention on themselves. If you don’t captivate your audience the moment they first encounter your ad, you’ve already failed. They will tune out your advertising like it never exists. Make that intro a banger!

11. You don’t have to be significantly better than competitors

Here’s the thing. Like Christiano Ronaldo’s case, he isn’t 750x better than other professional soccer players as his earnings suggest. Yes, he is better than them but not overwhelmingly better. After all, other players also score against him. The point is that you just have to figure out how to be distinctively better than your competition. Being distinctive means getting noticed in a crowd of competitors that all look the same to the average joe.

This is a holistic idea that covers your solutions, your advertising, and everything in between. Being distinctive (not different) is the big secret to standing 600 ft. above your competitors, winning the time and attention of a too-busy public.

12. Finally, to become Ronaldo, you need Ronaldo

As mentioned in the first point, even if you blow a thousand bucks on advertising, returns are not assured. You need the Ronaldos of advertising to produce top-notch money-raking ads that make your business the Ronaldo in your category. That’s the secret. Master and overcome the hurdles behind these 12 things and you will be an unbeatable advertising colossus.

20,000 Years of Advertising

This segment is taken directly from Roy H. Williams’ realization before he entered the advertising realm. According to him, Roy managed to gather 20,000 years-worth of advertising knowledge. No, not through research, but through interviews. At the age of 19, he sought businesses and asked several questions that gave him thousand-years’ worth of answers. Here are the questions:

  • What advertising did you do that really worked and was effective in gaining sales?
  • Have you done an advertisement that you genuinely thought was a brilliant idea but miserably failed?

Only two questions. Ask them to one thousand business owners with 20-year-old businesses and you’ll gain the same knowledge. Roy acquired collective experience equivalent to thousands of years because their stories reveal millions of dollars spent on advertising. He got them all for free. You can then use their information to find a specific pattern. This will enable you to see what worked and what didn’t. Try it.

Other Kind of Advertising

In today’s data-driven era, people have been obsessed with modern solutions like data. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, advertisers lost sight of what’s truly important. Our data worship has led advertisers to obsess with targeting audiences without consideration about the message we’re giving them.

Think about it. All of the ads you see are targeted based on your interests. Do you find yourself clicking through and buying into every ad you encounter? Exactly! Now, why do you think so? It’s because they may have targeted the “right people” but the message doesn’t come across. Some of the most effective advertising campaigns of all time have been those that tugged at our heartstrings. They made us laugh, cry or simply feel something. It’s these ads that make the difference.

Our data worship is anchored to our deterministic nature, or in the words of Amos Tversky: “Man is a deterministic device thrown into a probabilistic universe.” Data doesn’t determine reality. Reality is an independent concept that no one can put their finger on.

In other words, even with all the data in the world, you can only suspect what will happen. However, you will never really know for sure unless it actually happens. That’s what probabilistic means. Let’s look at two types of ads.


These ads are based on data like recent searches, demographic, and buying history. They are tailored to a specific audience and reach the so-called “right” people. Deterministic advertisers believe that when you present an ad to the right audience, it will work. They confined people into a set of numbers in a data set. They think that when the advertisement meets the correct parameters, sales happen. That’s hardly the case.


Alternatively, probabilistic ads focus on reaching as many people as possible and letting the ad do its job. It’s not about targeting the “right” people, it’s about reaching a wide range of people. Then letting the advertisement come through via its messaging. Consider Old Spice’s advertisements. They didn’t target men. They reached everyone and appealed to women. The women could then persuade their partners to buy the deodorant because of the ad, or simply pick it up at the grocery store themselves.

Would these advertisements have worked the same if only the guys were targeted? No. No, they would not. People say probabilistic advertisers use a shotgun while deterministic advertisers use a sniper. That’s not true. The better analogy is that deterministic ones use a fishing rod while probabilistic advertisers cast a net. “The more ground you cover, the more people you win over. 

If you want effective advertising that reaches both your audience and influencers, Wizard of Ads® has you covered. It begins with booking a call with Ryan Chute, the Christiano Ronaldo of Marketing Strategy.