The End of Advertising?


I love this picture by David Armano. I am particularly fascinated by the way that David is able to tease out a problem and turn it into something visual. I guess that is, in part, what makes him and his work + blog so successful (does this sound like blog envy). But one of the reasons that David’s work is so strong is because of what his visuals DO NOT say.

There is no doubt that David is tapped into the blogosphere zeitgeist … a quick review of his most popular posts will show that his thinking is at the very forefront of blog/interactive strategy. But where he is consistently strong is in positioning the questions that allow us all to enter the debate. He certainly stimulates my thinking and pushes me to ask questions about my own approaches, theories and working processes.

This recent post is a great case in point. On the surface, this post is about R/GA being awarded AdWeek Interactive Agency of the Year, but as David explains, combining storytelling with a compelling experience is not easy (if it was we would all be doing it). It is clear that new modes of storytelling and new forms of engagement are emerging — in fact, they are being demanded by consumers — but central to this shift in the consumer-brand dynamic is the seismic shift in technology that continues to undermine the role of agencies. But not all agencies … just those that refuse to acknowledge and adapt to the shift. (OK this is really the subject of another post …)

Perhaps what is most interesting in this is not the agency world, but the consumer world. For example, if consumers are the ones who generate your ads, then are they still called ads? If the direction of your art comes not from "creatives" but spills forth from the fertile imaginations of your most passionate brand advocates, is it owned by the brand or by the creator? And if the emotional resonance of this work carries more weight and generates more sales than "professional" work, does the applause ring out or does it sound like the end of an industry?

4 thoughts on “The End of Advertising?

  1. Thanks for the kind words Gavin—the fact that it comes from you is a bonus.
    Yes. Advertising is becoming an obsolete term. Agencies need to really think about how we connect with people in deep, meaningful ways. This doesn’t mean that good creativity goes away—it meands that the problems we need to solve for now are changing. Not rapidly as some suggest—but stadily, gradually. Look at how people in their 40s now relate to brands—how they interact with them. It’s a fundemental shift from 5-7 years ago.
    Storytelling + Experience is critical because it’s rare that the two come together. And the face of this is hard to put a finger on. Does Craigslist embody this? I think it does—it’s a good experience combined with the stories that people tell around it.
    One example—you can look at this from so many different perspectives, but one thing is for sure: a catchy tagline, logo, jingle, or commercial alone is not the key. We are all moving on. Just ask our children. 🙂

  2. Absolutely … I love watching the way kids relate / interact with brands and technology. For kids who have always had broadband connection, there is no differentiation between online and “real” life.
    And I don’t think it is a matter of kids being MORE savvy than they have ever been — it is just that they are applying their creativity in ways that work beyond the borders that we have all grown up with. To kids, there is nothing revolutionary about this — it simply IS.
    This makes for very exciting times (and challenges)!

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