Advertising is dead.




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Originally uploaded by Flo Heiss

After an amazing 243 course round table meal sampling Piero’s family wines on the Frescobaldi Nipozzano Estate outside Florence we decided we would hold our discussions on the lawns outside overlooking the rolling Tuscan hills. It doesn’t get any better than that and we found it quite hard to tune into the discussions initially, but it got quite heated and intersting soon. Probably fuelled by the most execllent wine.

Our topic for discussion was: “Have traditional agencies significantly raised their game in digital over the last year.”

We all felt that this is quite an outdated question now and we are collectively thoroughly bored by it, nevertheless the answer is probably no “traditional” agencies (I hate the term) haven’t raised the bar, but nor have the digital agencies. If digital is all about engagement, honesty, entertinment, usefulness and creating multiple-way discussions why are we still producing dull microstes with one and a half way conversations?

It was great to have Graham Fink in our group who gave an insight form his “side”. He said “Get in touch or die.” He talked about the creatives at M&C coming up with loads of non-traditional ideas, but they are finding it hard to sell them and convince media people.

Mark Chalmers (who was half asleep on the lawn in the background) suddenly woke up with a spark of genius: “I think the nature of products has changed. I am not sure that Coke would be able to launch with a sugary soft drink today. Look at brands like Google or ebay – they are a different kind of product. The world doesn’t need anymore products, only the good ones will cut through.” Products need to be good to sell. They need to have a point of difference. Something that connects with people.

The times where advertising has to manufacture metaphors to create an emotional bond with a brand are over. The product becomes the brand and our communications need to happen on a product level. Working with clients on creating souls for their producs and brands.

This got everybody very excited and we found out that traditional agencies and digital agencies are not that different at all. We are just approaching the big idea from different angles. Traditional agencies are very good at story telling and need to get to grips with technology and on the flipside digital agencies are very good at techically sparked ideas but suck at storytelling. Piero added : “We need to move from copywriting to scriptwriting.”

No surprise, but successful advertising is about ideas, the right kind of ideas, ideas that can be advertised as opposed to advertising ideas. These ideas are in essence PR ideas.

Ed from the Viral Factoryhad a great example of one such idea. Coke in Afrika did this thing where they designed the bottle with an inverted screw in the bottom. When you had drunk the bottle you could screw in the top of another bottle and so on to create a water pipe. Genius.

Vincent Jansen summed the discussion up at the end with a simple statement: “Get the best talent in one to make the best communications without thinking about above the line, online or whatever line.”

Reporting back to the wider group on our findings I got a bit carried away with the PR idea thing and declared: “Advertising is dead.”
Later that day I asked AQA “Is advertising dead?” It came back with: “No advertising is not dead. It’s very much alive and is all around us in our everyday lives. However, PR is stronger tool than advertising.”
Phew… i still have a job then.

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