Bad advertising is here to stay. Bad advertising is about to go away.
Which is it?
Here’s a fresh sample of how bad, bad can be:
I know that hurt. Sorry for putting you through that.
Is there any hope for an industry that consistently churns out this kind of rotting flotsam?
According to Andrew Essex, former chief executive of the influential creative agency Droga5, and author of a new book, there is hope.
For the past 50 years, we’ve essentially pursued a model called ‘command and control,’ which is to interrupt people in the rudest possible way with something they didn’t ask to see, which is most exemplified by interrupting a TV program at a moment of great interest to show you a 30-second toilet-paper spot.
But that model of adjacency is irrelevant and increasingly superfluous in a world in which there is so much content.
Back to the E*TRADE ad above. When a viewer acts on the TV spot and searches for E*TRADE on Google, there is a page of results that includes competitive companies.
Now, what does the buyer of financial services do? Attention is already fractured. There are other financial services firms to click on, not to mention sports updates, Facebook, and a world of digital distractions beyond.
If advertising is “increasingly superfluous in a world in which there is so much content,” the need for much stronger brands and much better advertising is not only a good idea, it’s the only workable idea on the table at the moment.
Better means more useful and relevant. It sounds easy, but it’s not easy. To get there clients and agencies need to rewire their brains. It’s easy for agency execs to say, “Make it about them, not you!” It’s hard to go from that kind of platitude to an insightful campaign that touches people and helps them care about the company in question.