Modern advertising is a mind-numbingly vapid industry filled to the brim people who have photo-shopped smiles slapped across their plastic faces. Even worse, the people that make these turds of consumerism genuinely think their work is the bee’s knees. They act like their crappy work is somehow benefiting the general population. This is because people in modern advertising focus more on achievements handed out by their peers than the real world achievement of their final product. In other words: “Will this ad win me an award or will it actually sell the product?”
I remember sitting in advertising college and a couple of creatives from a so-called prestigious advertising agency came to give us a presentation of their work. The work they showed us was the standard high-budget corporate stuff we’ve all seen before. You know flashy shots of cars, airbrushed people and copy riddled with innuendos. Yawn.
One of ads was for Volkswagen. The two of them expressed their dismay that the ad had been shot and approved internally but then modifications were ordered down from VW’s headquarters in Germany. The changes that they were forced to make resulted in what they thought was a stock ad and “wasn’t portfolio worthy”. Uh huh.
Well it certainly is a stock ad that shows absolutely nothing about the product, other than it has enough horsepower to pull a snow machine around. But what they said next made me question why I spent 3 years at advertising college. They said that it wouldn’t go into their portfolio because it wouldn’t have won an award. “We don’t care about the effectiveness of the ad, we only care about winning awards.” You must be joking.
This is the problem with modern advertising. Judges (who are all creative directors) hand out awards (to other creative directors) for an ad based on its creativity, originality and overall “Wow!” factor. The only metric that apparently doesn’t factor into the judges’ decision of who gets a golden pigeon statue or lion statue or whatever, is the only one that counts in my opinion. Did it sell more products? No? Oh, sorry it sucks then.
Modern advertising should be designed to sell.
It doesn’t matter how creative your ad is, if it doesn’t sell it’s useless. David Ogilvy is considered to be one of the fathers of modern advertising. In his book Confessions of an Advertising Man, he talks about one of his first clients, a man who was opening a hotel who only had only $500 to spend on advertising. So David bought $500 worth of postcards, wrote invitations to the new hotel on each one of them and then opened the phone book and posted a postcard to every person he found the address of until he ran out of postcards. The hotel opened to a full house. Why? OK which would you pay more attention to… A glossy magazine ad of a hotel with some generic copy on it or a hand-written postcard mailed to your door with your name on it? The answer is so obvious it renders the question rhetorical. Of course you’d be far more interested in a hand-written postcard because it makes an immediate personal connection.
Benefit before brand.
If selling is the first and foremost objective of any modern advertising, brand image manipulation its 2nd cousin.
Companies should always look at personalizing their brand, especially large ones. Advertising is one of the platforms in which companies can do just that, but modern advertising standards take it way to far. It seems their brand image is way more important than what they’re selling (or not selling).
Here’s a modern company that’s doing modern advertising right. Google has been doing nice job of communicating simplicity and personalization. Out of all the ads in the 2010 Super bowl, theirs stood out. Why do you think they even bothered though? Everyone knows who Google is and how to use it so why would they spend the some $3,000,000 on a 60s ad? To reinforce their brand identity.
The ad tells a heart-warming story using nothing but Google search results. It simultaneously shows you what Google can be used for. It’s not selling a product, it’s selling their corporate image. Let me reiterate that… it shows you what Google can be used for AND personalizes the brand. That’s what all modern advertising should aim to do. Ads that only communicate brand identity without communicating the benefit of their product, fail. They might win an award, but they still fail. Buy hey, don’t take it from me: