Advertising is Not Dead!

How many times have you heard that from a word-of-mouth marketer? We tend to take aim at advertising and shoot holes through advertisers and their campaigns. The reality is that the big kid is typically the easiest target.

Advertising is definitely waning in its effectiveness, especially the irrelevant creativity we see today. In addition, advertising fits perfectly the quote by Abraham Maslow who said, “To a man who only has a hammer, every problems tends to look like a nail.” Almost every problem you take to an advertising agency will be solved with advertising.

Where is advertising effective, then? Al Ries one of the grandfathers of modern marketing – tends to think advertising is effective as a reminder of a brand you are already familiar with and a poor tool for introducing a new brand. I also believe advertising works well for event based marketing – meaning there is a time and a place you are announcing. My friend and fellow word-of-mouth marketer, Justin Foster, points out a few other areas where he thinks advertising can be effective.

Word-of-mouth marketers tend to carry the banner of transparency and authenticity. That is why blogging and podcasting have become such a staple of that world. However, can advertising be transparent and authentic? Think of Dove’s “real women” campaign. I must admit, I am one of those who likes watching the Superbowl for its commercials, however, that was the commercial that stuck out the most to me because I have 4 daughters and that is how I want them to see themselves.

The rebuttal from most buzz marketers will be that there is no conversation in advertising; that it’s only a one-way communication. However, can you couple advertising with a conversation technology to create interaction? Can advertising evolve into an effective tool in a social networking society? YouTube has shown us some possibilities and there are new technologies popping up like Firebrand that treat commercials as the creative content that they are, not as just an interruption. With Firebrand, advertising becomes the destination not the speed bump.

I believe that advertising does have a time and place. I believe that the agencies that learn how to adapt this medium to the new reality and couple it with conversation will find a way to create great results. Advertising simply gives you an audience. However, its effectiveness has been on the decline because companies do a poor job of engaging that audience.


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