Should TMZ Be An Influence On Ad Agencies?

This isn’t a new column, but it’s an interesting one. Jim Elliott, Creative Director at Goodby, writes in a Boards Magazine blog about the use of tabloid-esque news and other media-related stunts in the ad biz.

I mean, let’s face it — all brands (whether they’re the kind you find in kitchen cupboards or within the pages of supermarket tabloids) seek fame. And there are many ways to achieve it. You can become famous by being talented or by doing something good for the world or by exposing yourself without limits.
And these days, one could argue, attention-hungry brands are competing for share-of-voice with not just other brands within their own category — they’re also competing against every other sensational story out there. Jon and Kate. Sarah Silverman versus the Vatican. Jon Stewart versus Bill O’Reilly. Falcon Heene (aka Balloon Boy) and his giant Mylar balloon. Lord knows these stories are accruing major hits on YouTube and airtime on Fox News.
What’s a well-intentioned household brand to do? Is it enough to simply pay for a seat at pop culture’s table via the usual “brought to you by” branded-content route? Or are far more drastic measures called for?

I can see both sides of this. I think that while these can be effective, consumers could quickly tire of brands pulling stunts constantly. It’s the ultimate in manufactured controversy, and marketers don’t quite get the same pass celebrities do. However, in our society we don’t seem to tire of tabloid stories in the news. There’s always something or someone new for the TMZs of the world to glom on to. So gimmickry could work quite well on behalf of brands.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.