The International Writers Magazine: Advertising and Lifestyles
Fight Against Complacency.
live in a cultural revolution where its not permissible
to turn off the media environment, converting the country into
a reactionary society (i.e. the consequences from the masses regarding
Princess Dianas death) with a girlie magazine mentality
staged in a TV commercial and edited by news flashes.
We have become
TV prostitutes, preoccupied with the trivial and the excessive, instead
of the important and the meaningful. And God help you if you are accountable
for your own actions! There is something deeply worrying and irresponsible
about this endless self-gratification, this constant appeal to the baser
instincts. It doesnt make a society better, nor grow, but stagnant.
We have become the latter part of the Roman Empire.
I am an advertising Creative Director and bemoan the demise of the "idea"
from advertising. It has been replaced by inane celebrity endorsements
(the corrupting influence of unfettered celebrity), banal product placements,
sneaky editorial advertorials and conventional event marketing. There
are a zillion TV channels out there, so your advertising must be different.
It should be entertaining, informative and memorable, but a significant
percentage of TV commercials have reached pure delinquency: ads are
politically puerile, derivative, and degrading to ones intelligence.
As Bill Bryson stated: "TV has the powerful and insidious effect
of lobotomizing its audience." Clients seem to forget what Rethinks
Chris Staples emphasizes: the "Ping-Pong Rule," which states
you can play with only one ball at a time. "You have to identify
the most compelling product benefit and advertise to that. Most ads
have five ping-pong balls in them." On the other hand, advertising
agencies have this knee-jerk obsession to hire young people and get
rid of their experienced staff, but within a decade the average age
will be in their twilight years, so what does a 20-something year old
know about a 65 year old?
The struggle between enlightenment and amusement is less about morality
than it is about influence and power. Yet, the principle of advertising
hasnt really changed in over 80 years. Daniel Starch wrote: "The
business of the advertiser is not to create fundamentally new desires.
That is not necessary and really cannot be done. Man already has certain
desires present from birth, which are a part of his fundamental make-up.
All that a seller can do is to direct these desires in certain directions,
or stimulate them to action." He wrote that in 1923 for his book,
Principles of Advertising. Hence, it is essential to be different,
even daring, to stand out in a myriad of messages that bombard the viewer
every day (the average consumer is exposed to 3,000 marketing messages
Too many clients are play-it-safers, the creatures of complacency, the
slaves of the ordinary. Advertising, instead of being innovative, is
a reflection of its environment, orchestrated by the likes of a civil
servant fear and viewed, not as a powerful tool, but as an evil necessity.
Yet, having a business without advertising is a bit like trying to stop
a watch to save time. Without effective creativity, a business or agency,
can wither or die.
advertising tells you what a brand does and why you should buy it.
But great advertising expresses what a brand stands for and invites
you to share in its belief. Advertising, to my mind, is eighty percent
psychology and twenty percent sell. For example, every beer commercial
in North America says exactly the same thing about their beer
brewed for that clean, crisp and less filling taste.
Rarely do these
ads inform us of anything else leaving the viewer to believe that all
beers must be a like. The difference is in the selling approach
usually reverting to humour or sex appeal. The average guy surrounded
by voluptuous women in a party or outdoor activity. The ads are implying
that you, yes, you, the couch potato, are cool, popular and a chick-magnet
if you drink this beer.
© Clive Branson March 14 2005
Ottawa, Ontario Canada
all rights reserved