Clever, smart, witty, laugh-out-loud funny – we all recall those ads in the past that captured our collective attention and made us feel something real. And they are a far cry from what passes for advertising in this data-driven digital age.
The dearth of creativity in today’s advertising gets an interesting take by USA Today’s Michael Wolff, who emphatically states what the advertising industry needs is writers.
Wolff makes a credible case, citing a recent chat with a digital ad agency head who asserts that they no long “do story” but rather “facilitate the handshake between buyer and seller.”
Translated into plain English, the role of “modern” advertisers is to grease the wheels of commerce. And they do this with data . . . making recipients feel like they are being giving a personal story when in reality they are being digitally stalked and hunted. All of which leaves precious little room for creative license in the copy.
Doc Searls supports Wolff’s views, and takes them even further when he writes about the ad biz’s need to exorcize direct marketing.
“In the old analog world, advertising and direct marketing remained blessedly separate. No first-rank copywriter, art director or creative director wanted to tar his or her hands (or resumé) with direct marketing work. In fact, most of that work didn’t happen on Madison Avenue at all, but in specialty shops somewhere out in Florida or Indiana.
“In reality, advertising has become ineffective because it is no longer advertising, at least in the digital world. It is direct marketing, calling itself advertising,” Searls continues.
This chasm is vast, and seemingly contributing to the constantly connected but emotionally distant consumer.
“You have no inherent right to my eyeballs, and it is precisely this axiom that makes today’s instruments and gadgets so powerfully disruptive to the culture,” Terry Heaton proclaims.
No, as advertisers we don’t have that right. We must earn it, cherish it when given, and treat that relationship with the respect it deserves.