Thursday, June 05, 2008

Broadband doesn't change the rules, even if it does change the game

Every day advertising seems to be thrown into the abyss of opinion, change, progress and subservience to the technology goddesses . Broadband technologies are essentially (apparently) rewriting the rules for every business, remaking many industries, and apparently its going to take a team of millions to decipher how advertising should respond to the challenges. I'm in.

According to Stephen P. Bradley, a Harvard professor, there are 3 key concepts that need to be considered in the path of evolution from Marlboro Man to BMW Films (which are no longer available on BMW site but still up on YouTube) to Subservient Chicken. I quote this article:

· Traditional advertising vehicles such as television are becoming less interesting to advertisers because of fragmented viewership and inadequate user data.

· Broadband technology is becoming more important to advertisers because of its ability to move the consumer closer to a transaction decision and to deliver clearly segmented audiences.

· The advertising industry is wrestling with this transformation in part by merging with media companies and by launching creative ad alternatives.

I am struggling with exactly this issue right now, actually still struggling to some degrees would be more appropriate. Despite spending years in the ad business, working at Yahoo!, meeting with the world's top agencies to discuss this and driving product strategy that is meant to address exactly these issues - I still feel like we are waiting for the bright light to go on, and maybe that is exactly the problem!

Let's look at Marlboro Man to understand what I mean here. In his day, only a handful of advertisers used "spokespeople", hardly any ads used nature and roughing it as their way to tell the story, and most importantly, the Marlboro Man was in a lot of places in his 45 year reign of bringing early death to his loyal followers (1954-1999). Prior to the Marlboro Man creation by Leo Burnett, they were out and about with a "Mild as May" campaign that extolled the gentle virtues of the brand targeted at woman, and in a matter of weeks they had transformed the campaign into a masculine, outdoorsy, cowboy focused squarely on the aspirations of the lesser sex.

Same situation applies with BMW Films series The Hire, which saw Clive Owen doing a fast-paced increase of 12% sales and driving 11 million views and 2 million website registrations in a matter of four months. Prior to this BMW was struggling with how to elevate their brand status and effectively engage a somewhat elite audience that was starting to do more and more research online prior to purchasing a car.

Subservient chicken - well, suffice to say we all play with our food, we just hadn't really done it like this before.

If these are indeed some of the cornerstone examples, then I have to push back on the Harvard-trained theory of the problem, and the same said quest for a solution. The solution is exactly what it always has been.

Great creative transcends cultural barriers, fragmentation, and even the medium/message borders that we need to carefully observe with mediocre creative. We are going to have to crack this same nut here at Overlay.TV, and already I can say without a doubt that it is in the conversations with Amber Mac, Kevin Nalts, iJustine, EMI, JWT and all the other very forward-leaning, uber-creative types we are talking to that the real ideas are evolving. And each time it is that difference - that unique creative spark - that transcends the platform, delivery, technology, and even the current audience demo and psychographics of the individuals or brands involved.

Great creative unfragments audiences. Great media, technologies and platforms put more simply, serve to support a more rapid unfragmentation.

Let's not confuse ourselves any longer with a technology discussion. Take it for granted and get the into the bar or boardroom with a pencil or projector and start brainstorming now!

1 comment:

Zee said...

good stuff. have you heard of "branded utility"? it's basically an advertisement disguised as an utility application. i had some thoughts on it recently,