Advertising is broken. Mainly because we ad men know nothing about business anymore
There was a time when the ad man was the CEO’s conciliere. The role of the ad man went beyond the traditional “create amazing ads sell lots of stuff” and extended into business decisions, product development and much more. The close relationship between advertising and pop culture was a medium to extend the creative output beyond the perfect campaign and helped shape business ideas and decisions.
Nowadays Advertising is just that. Ads. And for what its worth its not even that creative anymore. The business has shifted more in the last 10 years than it did the previous 40 but the truth is it didn’t evolve. Actually it lost ground.
Losing sight of the business side is one thing but we even missed the point of what technology and data can actually do for us. I don’t know what happened and our clan stopped being good at business.
Maybe the big conglomerate model with the big networks helped create processes that upgraded the overall quality of work and deliverables but it stopped execs from having an eye for business and thus being able to participate in the business side of the equation. Maybe the new mix of talent shifted focus. Or maybe KPI’s, brand awereness, engagement, experience driven activation etc, just got the best of us. Or maybe we have to admit that we actually aren’t that good at understanding how technology is shaping different behaviors and we try to catch up with the wrong tools.
In short we simply don’t get it anymore.
We are failing to understand that we need to go beyond what’s expected if we want to add value to the customer. OK we got the impressions. We even created engagement and look that post we posted actually got some traction but how does it actually effect business. Where is the real insight that we can bring to the table and earn our sits on it again?
At some point we understood that creative talent wasn’t enough anymore. We needed math and engineering and software development. In theory bridging math, engineering and software with creative talent should be the absolute weapon. But we failed miserably.
We celebrate technological leaps in advertising because with have access to behavioral data and now we can do A/B testing and we even sell that to clients as an actual breakthrough. We collaborate with google or other platforms and bring a little interactivity to the creative process in order to catch more eyeballs or better yet keep them interested a little bit longer so they might click the buy button or remember us the next time they are at the super market. And thats just that.We settle for things that do the job and nothing more and for what its worth they are not considered technological leaps in the real world.
In the old days there would be a connection between activating emotions for a brand and the business side. We would bring product development ideas, we would go beyond the “lets send a newsletter to alert them we are open on Saturday and have a sale” and think of ways to take advantage of the actual cultural shifts and consult our clients on taking advantage of them. But we don’t care. We only care about losing business to technology savvy competitors that started to flock from the management and technology sector since they see that we are not able to produce anymore.
If we want to offer value we have to start thinking what value is. And actually we have to become again able to understand real business objectives and support them and enhance them.
We’ve got to stop getting the brief from the client. We have to start bringing new briefs to them based on our understanding of whats happening. In short we have to earn our roles as consultants again and stop settling for the great ad that we can produce.