Dead flowers on advertising's grave
It has been a nice week for introspection by the regal elite of the UK's ad agency bosses. Perhaps taking his cue from WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell (see: We're not ready), Lord Saatchi (of M&C Saatchi) writes about the strange death of modern advertising in today's FT.
Sometimes I feel as though I am standing at the graveside of a well-loved friend called advertising.He goes on to reference digital natives and digital immigrants, which Marc Prensky and others have been writing about for quite some time.
At the age of only 50, advertising was cut down in its prime. Advertising holding companies used to boast about their share of the advertising market. Now they are proud of how much of their business is not in advertising. How did this happen?
This, apparently, is what makes it possible for a modern teenager, in the 30 seconds of a normal television commercial, to take a telephone call, send a text, receive a photograph, play a game, download a music track, read a magazine and watch commercials at x6 speed. They call it "CPA": continuous partial attention. The result: day-after recall scores for television advertisements have collapsed, from 35 per cent in the 1960s to 10 per cent today.I love the term, "continuous partial attention," just in case you were wondering. He continues:
I'm not so sure I agree with this 100% ... I agree that easily understood brand identities are a good thing, however Lord Saatchi's opinion is a bit extreme and perhaps misguided. Even online, there are plenty examples of successful "long-format" communications. Viral ads and videos are long, and lots of people watch them. Some sites take a lot of time to go through to get to the point, yet people do if it is worth it. Even some blog posts, like this one, go on seemingly forever, yet people read them. You are reading it, right? Is it really just a question of simplicity and speed?
Pick a brand. Any brand.
Now, think of what you are trying to say. Can you precisely describe, in one word, the particular value, the characteristic, the emotion, you are trying to make your own?
If it runs to a sentence, you have a problem. A paragraph? Sell your shares.Why? Because nowadays only brutally simple ideas get through. They travel lighter, they travel faster.
Couldn't the problem be due to a general decline of creativity in advertising, especially in large shops?
Let's face it, for every brilliant Sony Bravia or Guiness spot, there are 1000 pieces of crap creative shovelled down the throat of the modern consumer. Is it any surprise that people have learned how to quickly tune those messages out in favour of other, more interesting things to do? Why sit through a uninteresting ad when you can either fast forward through it with your PVR, or in those same 30 seconds text a friend, delete 12,000 pieces of spam, make a million friends on MySpace, or any of a number of other more worthwhile things.
It isn't about simplicity and speed as Lord Saatchi suggests. It is about value and choice.
I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I still watch ads. But now, I only watch the good ones. Advertising isn't dead. Not by a mile. Creative that sucks is dead, and that's a good thing. Mick sums it up nicely:
And you can send me dead flowers every morning.Have a great weekend,
Send me dead flowers by the mail.
Send me dead flowers to my wedding.
And I wont forget to put roses on your grave.
Technorati Tags: advertising, dinosaurs, saatchi, blogosphere
Friday, June 23, 2006