The Word “Advertising” Is Under Attack

You know that old “Advertising is dead” meme? It’s baaaaaack.
Paul McEnany of Hee Haw Marketing typed up the following:

So maybe it’s time we just stop calling what we do advertising. What it is now is much too personal to be so shorted with that brand of commercial artistry. When before we were segmented and massified at the same time, today we are increasingly individualized, personalized, and magnified. 10 years ago I wasn’t much more than a 25-34 year-old male with a paycheck, but today, I stand before you proudly as me and only me.

The thought here is advertising doesn’t speak to an individual, and that’s what the entire business is about today. My counter is the best ads do indeed speak to an individual. They always have, from David Ogilvy’s Hathaway shirt man on down. However, I’m not opposed to redefining terms. A few months ago I thought ad agencies should stop calling themselves ad agencies and use the term “Media Lab” instead.



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.