September 25, 2010

Should advertising be abolished?

So here we are, the final chapter of David Ogilvy’s book “Confessions of an Advertising Man”. The book that inspired this blog finishes with this dramatic question – Should advertising be abolished? Ogilvy quotes Churchill who said “Advertising nourishes the consuming power of men. It sets up before a man the goal of a better home, better clothing, better food for himself and his family”. A rather patronising view but spot on in a post-war era when the economy needed to grow. Yet at the time of writing the book (the early 60s) the debate was raging about the value of advertising.

Fast forward forty years and in the digital world we now live in the debate continues… but today the backlash against advertising comes from consumers who now have personal control to ban advertising themselves. From ad skipping Tivo to pop-up blockers through to spam filters – people have multiple ways to avoid being advertised to. Now we are facing a situation where our audience is no longer captive but rather it is brands that are held hostage by consumers who demand more than being told that they should buy a product to have a better life. Marketers are now forced to find new ways to reach the people who potentially could buy the product. When any negative experiences with a product can be posted online brands are being held accountable more than ever before.

Interestingly David Ogilvy showed in his book how advertising has always been a force for sustaining standards of quality and service. When his agency started advertising KLM Royal Dutch Airlines as “punctual” and “reliable”, their top management told their staff that they had to live up to the promise of their advertising. Today we see campaigns like the Domino Pizza Turnaround that allow consumers a window into their operations and shout their new values from the computer screen. Power to the people.

Ogilvy believed that TV was the most potent advertising medium ever devised but he would pay for the privilege of watching it without “commercial interruptions”. Times have changed but they stay the same. Online people enjoy free media with online news and entertainment content but hate animated ads that cover the page they are looking at. No doubt David Ogilvy would have loved Tivo allowing him to skip all the ads. Online advertisers have learned quickly that consumers will ignore their messages so have developed more engaging ways to attract attention. Branded content rewards people for their time. iAds promise to deliver a richer experience. Advergames entertain you hoping that next time you want to buy a bag of chips that you’ll choose their brand. When you want to launch a new movie a trailer just isn’t enough any more. You need to draw people into the world of the movie through transmedia “experiences”  like the multi-screen campaign that was executed for the Avatar movie across Xbox and MSN.

Ogilvy finishes by saying that advertising should not be abolished (of course) but it must be reformed. No doubt he’d be alarmed and fascinated by the digital world of today where reform is being enforced by consumer behavior. Truth and lies about brands and products are revealed by the verbal few and received by the masses on social networks, blogs and Twitter. Ultimately commerce needs communication. Brands need fans that act rather than just “like” (as pointed out in this article by Simon Mainwaring). Digital spells the end of advertising as we know it. Ads that talk at you are definitely banned. Campaigns that connect with customers in a meaningful way, that bring people together with a common brand affiliation and ultimately result in sales… that’s the kind of advertising that rings in a new way of thinking.

So I come to the end of Ogilvy’s book and as I close it I’m also on the verge of a new chapter myself. At the end of October I leave Ogilvy to take up an exciting new challenge in China where I hope to continue the digital adventure in a market where online and mobile brand communication is still relatively new. I’ll be posting my future confessions of a digital adman from a totally different perspective. It’s going to be a blast.

January 22, 2010

Week of Tweets #5

Sorry folks, with the holidays and a massive project in the new year I have been neglecting my weekly summary of the best things I’ve shared on Twitter this past week. So this time I’m going to be picking my favourites from several weeks of tweets…


RT @olliepee: @BBHLabs blogpost “The Coming Age of Augmentation” wins my futurist post of 2009 award http://bit.ly/55QSom

  • Ray Kurzweil is scaring a lot of people with futuristic theories about machines becoming self-aware. This article talks about that and other mind-boggling theories. Perfect inspiration when you are designing banner ads 🙂

Interesting RT @nictinworth: RT @landor_dot_com: Landor’s 2010 trends forecast: social media trends, by Alex Do —http://ow.ly/Q21b

  • What can we expect to see in 2010? Everyone is getting in on the act by making their own predictions. This blog post was quite interesting.

RT @rohitbhargava: Short video of a very cool Intel interactive touch screen cube from the @Intel booth at #CES – see above

  • CES caused a lot of buzz in early January and this installation from Intel got lots of press. Interesting usability nightmare.

RT @modernista: How Social Media and the Web Helped Avatar Make $1 Billion, http://bit.ly/82oAyf

  • So it was a big month for James Cameron and his Avatar. I enjoyed the movie but I don’t see it being a classic piece of cinema. What is interesting is how social media help hype the film into outer space.

Great stuff RT @steverubel: Video: The Future of Social Media – watch below

  • It continues to be the year of social with companies like Pepsi and Coke avoiding traditional media for the likes of Facebook. Steve always has great viewpoints on how brands can do it right.

Great read RT @Tomcallard: No Logo is 10 years old and the fantastic Naomi Klein has written about the branding of Obama. http://ow.ly/XnkL

  • For the 10th anniversary of the book Naomi has released an updated version and this fascinating article is an extract from that edition.

Black turtleneck optional… RT @loic: How to present like Steve Jobs http://ping.fm/Uvpyf

    • Next time you are going to be presenting – get some of the Steve vibe going…

    Finally, I knew I had made a success of Twitter when I found out I was being followed by “The Coolest Couple”, Pat and Lorna.

    patlornaHow did they become the Coolest Couple?

    “There is a reason we are The Coolest Couple and The Coolest Couple on the Planet. By using one of the biggest and largest robotic marketing engines of all time: Google”

    Now that’s what I call confident personal branding! 🙂

    December 8, 2009

    Week of Tweets #2

    Another week another flood of useful information streaming through Twitter. You could spend your whole time monitoring what’s being tweeted. These people who follow thousands of people – how do they do it? Well here are the best of the tweets I made week beginning Nov 30th…

    Nice RT @tomgooday: RT @adreviews The Sun’s highly entertaining parody of Apple’s ads captures just the right tone http://bit.ly/5v5moc

    • The Sun is a horrible British newspaper but with this video they made tries to hit back at the digitalisation of media. Reminds me of a campaign I developed for Parker pens a few years ago where I said it was the original handheld device.

    Clicktags? RT @adage: Why Some Brand Taglines are Better Suited for Interactivity: http://bit.ly/7WFm87

    • An interesting article by Calle and Pelle Sjoenell that looks at the power of copy and how some tag lines encourage more interaction than others.

    Great read RT @ChristianMezofi: Why Digital Swedes Are Moving Away From Advertising. Written by Patrick Gardner – http://bit.ly/53bdMj

    • Another good article on AdAge… “That Sweden knows a thing or two about digital advertising isn’t news to most Mad Men these days. At Cannes you can hardly swing a cyber Lion without hitting at least one Swede. If you have a Lion to swing, that is — the Swede will probably be the one holding it in the first place. But the fact Swedes now contribute a surprising share of the world’s most innovative advertising belies a deeper truth, one slowly being revealed by accelerating digitization and continued success. The truth is: Most Swedish digital advertising leaders don’t actually care all that much about advertising”.

    ‘What is worth fighting for?’ Avatar the Game – great Wired story behind its development – http://bit.ly/8dyJ24

    • Ever wondered how movie tie-in games are developed? This gives great insight…

    Can you do better than these? If so upload yours RT @bannerblog: 2009 Agency & Client Xmas Cards http://bit.ly/5uupi1

    • Every agency goes through hell trying to find the right end of year message. Bannerblog are gathering some of the best ones. Great if you have run out of ideas.

    RT @LesBenito: 10 Web trends to watch in 2010 – CNN.com http://ow.ly/166wVB

    • No doubt there will be a few more trends to watch before the end of January. But this is a good place to start…

    Truth hurts RT @adamcoomes: Hahaha. Putting a tag cloud on a customer support forum is a bad idea. http://is.gd/5csFs

    • This made me laugh. Someone thought it would be great to pull out the most common words on a customer forum. Too bad they were so negative.

    Great read… The Communications Pro of the Future (2010 Edition) in 4 parts – by John Bell http://bit.ly/6PMDoS

    • A lot of great thinking distilled into a series of articles. Worth taking the time to read (I know how hard reading anything longer than 140 characters has become)!

    It’s great to try new ideas….. or is it? RT @untitledlondon: Tweet Fail http://bit.ly/8MXqjF

    • Just for laughs…

    billboardfail_banner