Distant Shores, Nearby Challenges

Indian advertising site, afaqs!, reports that Sir John Hegarty and Dan Wieden both made it to Goa earlier this month to speak at GOAFEST, a confab of Indian advertising execs at the beach city popular with European, Australian and American travelers. Hegarty and Wieden have both opened offices in India recently.
Here’s a bit on Wieden’s speech:

Labelling the current phase as one of technological revolution and economical evolution, Wieden stressed on the need to balance technology with emotional connections and closer bonds between all the entities involved in the whole process of advertising.
“We have created an artificially abstract world to live in. Life is like a thought cage,” said Wieden, commencing his presentation. He said that the technological issue, though fascinating, will take away what we cherish the most from us.
With 180 million Facebook users, more than 225 million websites and thousands popping up every day, the question to ponder is whether we have used technology to our advantage to build intimacy or we have traded intimacy for something less realistic -given the situation – something that will not take us too far?

Life is like a thought cage? I think something may have gotten lost in translation, for Wieden is much more eloquent than that.
Thankfully, the intimacy question makes sense and is worth exploring. The argument can be made for either side. Take Facebook. Does the site put your real friends in closer proximity than they would otherwise be? Not in actuality, but it does organize them in a fully blown out address book.
The intimacy question is one Wieden (and others) grapple with because he wants to create bonds between consumers and brands. It’s only natural to ask if that can be done properly in digital mediums. My own argument is digital is best when it builds a bridge to a real offline community. Here’s a page from my own career–the online music magazine my team at BFG constructed for Camel only made sense as a driver to and supporter of Camel’s event series. In other words, digital, like broadcast and print, has to be part of a loop, with each media placement working hard to do its part.



About David Burn

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. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.