Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On the other hand: great ads still compel attention

Greenberg's position--however insightful--is also artificially simple; it's only one side of the story. While advertising as a whole may have lost some of its power to drive purchase decisions, the cultural power of great advertising remains strong. In practical terms, people may use dvr technology to skip over ads in general, but there's plenty of evidence that they use Tivo and Youtube to seek out their favorite ads to watch again.

Here's one piece of qualitative evidence: a report from the field from one of my ex-staffers who recently moved to LA to join a creative hot-shop:

Spent the day watching football with some new, non-advertising friends.

A marketer’s dream: 25-34 year olds, single (thus, high income), always online.

My employment in the industry never came up, but throughout the afternoon, they:

went back on Tivo to re-watch 2 ads they thought were funny (FedEx and Miller High Life)
pulled up an ESPN ad online to watch for fun
would critique probably 1/3 of all ads (“hysterical”; “lame”; “creative”; “that Domino’s pizza looks horrible”)

They found out I was in advertising later in the evening, well-after all of the above had gone down. Learning this led to of course 10 to 15 questions about what I did, what campaigns my agency worked on, what it was like to be in the industry.

The old famous Gossage quote paraphrased a bunch of different ways ("People don't read advertising...They read what interests them. Sometimes it's an ad.") still holds true. And why not? Television ads are tailor-made for consumption in our contemporary era: at their best, they're short, entertaining and easy to understand.

In conversations with clients and critics who express doubt about the power of advertising, I usually express it this way: "People don't hate advertising. They love advertising. They wouldn't know what to do without advertising. They just hate bad advertising."


Paul Soldera said...

Well said. And true.

But I'd go further and say people don't hate advertising, they LOVE to hate advertising. That's what makes it powerful. Many people care enough about it to LOVE to hate it.

But they also love to love it.

It's when they ignore it you've got problems.

Chris Persheff said...

i just came across this blog randomly via a google keyword search.

And no, I hate advertising. And I'm going to be an urban planner soon, and I'm going to think of ways to get your industry's digusting, insecurity inducing, overly sexualized, inducements of paranoia that some people call a job shit off the walls and billboards of downtowns.

no, i hate advertising. no quasi-1 year of philosophy meta arguments there.

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