Every single year we hear advertising as a whole or the various mediums (ie radio, print, outdoor, etc) are dead. And, every year we see new advances in technology and advertising thrive. There are new mediums emerging and we are expanding advertising so, to say that advertising is dead is ridiculous. Advertising is more alive now than it ever has been. I admit, I am a bit old school when it comes to advertising and, like many, think radio, tv, print, outdoor. But, there is a whole other medium that we tend to not necessarily consider advertising: the social platforms; which are very much alive.
Definition of Advertising
Advertising by definition is “the action of calling something to the attention of the public especially by paid announcements.” This definition is a bit dated as not all advertising is paid. Focusing in on the “action of calling something to the attention of the public” is what we do each and every single day on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email marketing, etc. We post updates to draw attention to ourselves to start a conversation and listen to those that respond to us. Smells a lot like advertising doesn’t it? If we were not wanting to get noticed then why would we post the update? For shits and giggles? Hardly. When we flip through the newspaper and catch a glimpse of an ad, we stop and look at the ones that catch our eye. Our attention has been caught and we stop to take a second to look at it further. Commercials, prior to the CALM Act being approved and going it into effect next year, were louder on certain networks than the regular programming to draw attention to them. If we believe that our attention is only had when there is a change in volume, then we know that the purpose of advertising has been lost.
Purpose of Advertising
Wikipedia expands upon the definition of advertising and touches the human behavior element which is the purpose of advertising: “Advertising is a form of communication used to encourage or persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to continue or take some new action. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering …” Persuade an audience through communication is why brands advertise. If we persuade then we have them take action and buy. If our advertising does not persuade, we fall short and the desired action is not taken (yes, I realize that there are loyalists and some WOM who would buy regardless of and if they have ever seen the advertising). We could argue that there are some ads out there that are so bad that the element of persuasion is lost however, on the flip side, the advertisement has gotten your attention and through being bad and while it may persuade you to change the channel, flip the page or radio station, you paid attention enough to take some action and associate that ad with the brand.
The Creative Process
Persuasion through communication is powerful. It is that one thing that gets you noticed. Billions of dollars are spent each year on advertising; all vying to get attention. It is not only their target market anymore as we have seen with communications going viral. This helps to draw the attention of the target market and persuade them to buy while giving the brand a boost in some free advertising. If it is worthy then it is noticed. Worthy comes in all shapes and sizes as some are noticed for a negative whereas others are noticed for a positive. We saw this develop recently with FEDEX and the driver throwing the computer monitor over the fence but on the flip side where K-mart who has had a push on layaway and had “layaway angels.” If you are like me, skepticism comes into play here for K-mart as hmh, you make a big push for layaway and then suddenly people pay off others’ layaways as an anonymous donor? Ok it can happen but logically when we really think about it, there were that many people that knew that people struggling had items on layaway and they went to their local store and offered to pay for an unknown person layaway? That begs the question of privacy as the store employee pulled up past due accounts and allowed some stranger to pay for them? Or allowed a person to stand there waiting for a person to come up and then jump in and pay for it? Maybe I am getting too deep but I do not know about you but when I really break it down, it seems a bit off. Did they do this internally to draw attention to the layaway? Did they get the media blitz to bring more people in to buy and boost sales? If so, I can say brilliant if it was internal and it is not exposed. But is it creative insomuch as a form of advertising?
The Creative Process is Dead
Advertising is not dead but the creative process is. How many small businesses create a creative brief for a Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin account? Hell, even mid to large businesses we have to question if they have that creative brief. The creativity that we once had has been lost on technology. What we say matters whether that be in a print ad, radio/tv spot or on a social media platform. People see it on all mediums and develop their own opinion. FEDEX was championed for talking about the incident and ensuring that this is NOT what is customary for their drivers. They could have taken the avenue of our drivers are pushed the limit and do what they have to do to ensure that all packages are delivered. We looked at their responses and were quick to give them props. While this was a crisis PR moment for FEDEX, they could have expanded their efforts and posted their own video of how a package should be delivered. We all know how it should be delivered but them showing sets the standard and adds an element of creativity where they could have outlined the standards and made us all watch and be their eyes and ears on the streets. The creative process died when they were reactive and quite proactive to responding to the crisis but failed to turn it around into a positive.
Technology is Killing the Creative Process
The technological advances are astounding. We have come a very long way from the early days of advertising. There is more opportunity now to be creative but it is missed. It is easy to create a commercial that has the spokesperson/mascot, the catchy jingle, the stereotype, humor or lack thereof (it obviously was funny to someone) but is hard to create an ad that speaks to the target market well enough to have them take action and that is a viable ad across the various mediums. We can say that this ad will work well on TV but does that translate over to YouTube? Does that Tweet translate well over on Facebook? Is that even considered, especially for a small business?
Exposure across the mediums has become the goal. More eyes, shares, retweets will gain more exposure but does that exposure resonate and equate to action? Creating a commercial requires a story board. Does anyone have a storyboard or something of the like for Twitter? Big brands have an agency or department that develops the voice of the brand online which is different than creating a spot but is it really? If we think of Twitter and Facebook as a billboard as each time we update as similar to people flying by on a highway at 65 and catching a glimpse then, we have to treat our social media accounts as advertising. Sure, some are able to sit in traffic on the highway and see all the billboards, especially the digiboards that change which again is like Twitter when we tweet more and more. Social media platforms are advertising and should be treated as such when to comes to the creative process. Technology has changed but the laws of advertising still remain. Be creative and think of each update as an ad for your company as with every update, they see your profile attached to it. Create that creative brief, that buyer persona, that voice of the brand and be consistent. Successful companies are consistent and contained therein is creativity that is not lost on the mediums.
Thoughts? Ideas? Agree that advertising is not dead?
photo credit: Annie Mole