Am I missing something here? Or have I been transported to the 1960s? I’m skimming current issue of Fortune (yes I’m still a sucker for real magazines) when I get to the back of the book and discover a Time Inc. Special Project: CNNMoney.com’s Selling Detroit. It’s a contest for Detroit ad agencies to create print ads to pitch the city to “smart, young, creative people.”
See anything wrong with this picture yet? Well check out the print ads and you’ll see plenty.
For starters they’re bad: unoriginal, uninspiring, derivative. One execution, reviving the famous Shackleton ad (admittedly used on this very blog a couple of weeks ago) gets credit for at least suggesting the truth: that this is not for the faint of heart. But the rest? You decide.
The real issue, of course, is that if anyone in the advertising business wants to help Detroit come back, it won’t be with a print ad. In fact doesn’t a print ad in and of itself scream old, stuck in the past, marketing by interruption? Or at least can’t we find a more innovative medium if we want to entice “smart, young, creative people?”
Why wasn’t the assignment to create a Twitter account? Why didn’t anyone think to identify and gather all the energetic, digitally-centric creative people in Detroit, build a community, and crowdsource ideas? Start a conversation. Prove the point with dialog, opinions and ideas that would actually demonstrate creative vitality.
Why not invite the easily identifiable entrepreneurs who are trying to start new companies like Bickbot (iphone apps), Bongotones (ring tones) and Lyfe.net (a mobile social media photo service) and get them involved? Don’t they represent future possibilities?
Why not embrace Twitter, YouTube, Plancast, WordPress, Tongal, Ning or any of the hundred other great platforms that scream progress and are all available for free? They offer a chance to listen, engage, inspire, mobilize and co-create. My guess is that would get the next generation of creative people more excited than a print ad.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to print ads. In fact I love them. And I’m rooting for Detroit as we have an office and clients there. But a contest for a print ad? In an age when what you do is more important than what you say? I don’t think so.
But what do you think? Please share.