The Right Content On The Right Platform At Just The Right Moment–That’s Worth Something

Everyone’s talking about customer empowerment, but BusinessWeek has another take on things.
Trapped inside an article on nervous companies eschewing untested campaigns that try to reach customers via smartphones, social networks, and other new media, is this bit:

In these hard times, advertisers wield more power than ever. Packaged goods behemoth Unilever is forcing media companies to throw in experimental marketing for free. The Anglo-Dutch company made a proposition to the broadcast and cable networks, as well as Yahoo!, Google, AOL, and Microsoft: Develop creative ways to reach customers, Unilever told them, and it will buy a block of traditional ads. The Food Network was happy to oblige. For Unilever’s Hellman’s brand, it created a “Leftovers” recipe menu for mobile-phone users and filmed several online cooking videos, all starring mayonnaise. “We’re shifting risk onto the media companies,” says Rob Master, Unilever’s North American media director.

Why am I paying attention to this? Because, marketers aren’t getting through to customers with the advertising of old. I know, it might seem odd, for inside this little bubble of adverati we do love to engage with ads, but not everyone does. No. People have better things to do with their time. They can’t be bothered with advertising, of all things. So what are you doing about it?
Are you bringing branded utility to the table? Are you inventing ways to deliver brand-sponsored content to an opt-in audience of brand zealots?
If not, why not? Are you ads better than everyone else’s?

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Those are great questions to ask. But as long as the thing being bought by the agency and paid for by the client is what could best be described as “old media” and the thing being given away for free is whatever qualifies as “new media”, the bulk of the concepting, thinking, worrying and testing will be focused on the one that (wait for it) actually costs money. Yes, the creatives involved can always try to bring a branded utility idea to the table. But unless your boss and your client are as into it as you are, the likelihood of it ever seeing the light of day ain’t so great. As with anything new, making sure the higher-ups are on-board is key. (And not just on board with you working all weekend to make them look good in the meeting with ideas they’ll never go to bat for.) Aside from the occasional smart use of one these opportunities, I’m afraid that as long as these giveaways treat new media like the free sample of detergent that comes with the newspaper (how’s that for a media-centric analogy?), they’re going to be valued accordingly.