A great time to be in the business of making ads



There is no shortage of claims about advertising being dead. It’s the age of search, digital, social media, and consumer participation. Interruptive messages no longer work. We have too many ways to avoid them. And less tolerance for their unwelcome intrusions. All of which may be true.

But if you’re actually in the business of making ads or crafting TV spots, times have never been better. For despite what Bob Garfield might say, you don’t have to do any hard selling. You don’t have to provide very much product information. In fact, it makes little sense to waste time doing so.

For starters consumers have more ways than ever to learn about a product, assess its utility or determine its value. They can search for or solicit objective opinions from friends and others they actually trust. And they can simply tap into a host of social networks for public sentiment and reviews.

All of which means that ad creators are liberated to do nothing more than “light a fire,” as Dodge brand CEO Ralph Gilles recently declared in defending the brilliance of Chrysler’s Super Bowl spot.

Finding an attention-getting way to express what a brand stands for rather than explain what a product does has always been the preferred approach of any talented creative team. But it hasn’t always been easy to sell. However these days, even the most by-the-book marketer should realize it’s more important to create advertising that gets talked about and passed around than it is to produce work that tests well with Millward Brown.

This genre of creative just got another boost in the form of TED’s announcement of the first winners in its Ads Worth Spreading Challenge. The invitation, made last fall to the global advertising community in hopes of helping redefine what video advertising can mean in the digital age, drew over 1000 entries. Yesterday TED named 10 winners and 14 finalists.  A look at the work quickly tells you that messages about a brand’s values, beliefs and purpose — rather than facts about a products’ efficacy — prevail. Even ads that were about a brand conveyed something more important than a product quality. Nike advocated for 12- year-old girls. Chrysler celebrated the determination of Detroit. Target created an experience that brought people together. Dulux exhibited not just the power of color but of teamwork and collaboration.

Granted TED has an agenda. It wants to associate itself with advertising in hopes of generating revenue and selling ads on the back end (not the front end) of its videos. But if anyone is ever to sit through an ad at the end of online content it had better be something we want to watch, not something we have to watch. And, of course, that is the real point. Not only are we now free to create work that is pure, entertaining and delightful, we have to. Otherwise no one will ever see it.

Ironic that all the digital forces that threaten advertising might actually be the same forces that come to its rescue.

(Note: I’m well aware that the ad/promo for Arcade Fire and Google, a finalist, shouldn’t really count as “advertising.” After all it is a bit easier to advertise a great band, song and technology than a product. But no reason that we can’t be trying to do similar things for traditional clients, too.)

9 comments
DaleBradshaw
DaleBradshaw

I work for an advertising agency and so glad to be a part of a great team. It's never going nowhere, advertising lives on forever so long as there are consumers then it's going to work. 

deezyners
deezyners

Advertising will not be dead. This is already part of our economy. Investments could hardly boom without advertising. The difference of advertising in the past and on what we have now is quality of strategies that has been used. Today, there are already various high quality strategies. Advertisers are using the fast pacing technology innovations. The social media advertising is now very popular. Unlike in the past that posting posters and printing leaflets are enough. A lot of technologies were used to make social media advertising more successful.

This blog is informative. I've began to realize the progress of advertising and on how it is important in our daily lives. Today, media advertisments are a lot more creative and attractive. They can really catch viewers' attentions.

Keep sharing informative blogs.

JeffShattuck
JeffShattuck

I've been thinking more about about this and I have two points I'd like to raise:

1) I do not believe that advertising created without regard for product is a good idea. Maybe some companies are so big and they just want to advertise themselves (remember "We're Beatrice"?) but even then, it's not a good use of marketing dollars. To me, the best ads have always come out of product. Heck, I'm so old school, I still like the USP! But consider: Apple shows you how the product works; Google shows you how the product works; McDonald's shows you what the food looks like and sells the hell out its "freshness". I could go on, but you get the point. My challenge: name one truly great ad that was effective (achieved its goals) and ignored the product (1984, yes, admit that, but it was inspired by the product in a HUGE way and sold the product's benefit). Not easy.

2) I read mikesdebp comment and it inspired my second point: advertising is no longer only about raising awareness; it can be about that, sure, or increasing sales, but today, the advertising can also truly be about engagement. As it should be. After all, why would you not want to talk with your customers? Makes no sense!

mikesdebp
mikesdebp

I like this post,- but there always has been a difference in ad content depending on how well or how little the brand is already known. The goal of advertising after all is quite simple - raise awareness of the product or service you are promoting. How one does this lies in the creativity of the marketer.

15090056
15090056

The advertisement industry is one of the few ones not hit by the recession. I would've thought that most firms would sash their marketing funding but they are adopting a more optimistic and aggressive approach by in fact marketing more. It's great for people like us! <a target="_blank" href="http://www.awningsgauteng.co.za/">Awnings Gauteng</a><br />

JeffShattuck
JeffShattuck

I agree, advertising agencies and clients have never had more ways to reach people, but counter to that is the rise of the Agency Holding Company. Today, there are five maine ones -- Publicis, Havas, IPG, Omnicom and WPP - and I would argue that they have not had a positive effect on the industry. Take WPP: look at Y&R, Ogilvy, and JWT and ask yourself, are these agencies better than they were as independents (by better, I do not mean revenue, I mean employee satisfaction, distinctiveness, creative fire power, etc). I would argue that they are not. Here's the question: what have these holding companies done that is good and on balance have they improved the advertising trade or screwed it up a bit?

DaveAtNORTH
DaveAtNORTH like.author.displayName 1 Like

Hi Edward,
The Arcade Fire "experience," I wouldn't call it a video, but it is "advertising" - for Google Chrome and also behind the scenes, for Google Labs, no? A smart way to get everyone who is passionate about the band to download Chrome, the only browser that users could use to "see" the html5 renderings..
Nice post, btw.

DaveAtNORTH
DaveAtNORTH

@edwardboches and this, too often, is a sad truth - "they have no idea how to think in these new spaces because they don't have any idea what is possible technologically."

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@DaveAtNORTH True. Was just assuming that people would use the paid media definition and that they'd claim unfair advantage to advertising something that cool, vs a more boring product without the clout of an artist like Arcade Fire. But you're right. And this should be what everyone is striving for. Challenge is that often, when I show this kind of stuff to "creatives," they have no idea how to think in these new spaces because they don't have any idea what is possible technologically.

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