The death of (bad) advertising

Joseph Dumont writes a great piece at on how interactive is displacing traditional advertising. But in pushing his argument a little too far, he also unintentionally makes a good case for truly great broadcast creative, versus the less compelling kind.

In fact, in the context of the internet and today’s audiences, broadcast advertising is increasingly anemic without great creative.

But what qualifies as “truly great”? A good starting point would include subjective and objective criteria: Subjectively good creative strikes an emotional chord, is compelling and enhances the reputation of the brand. And objectively good creative gets measurable results. 

Let’s look at one of the author’s examples, The Martin Agency’s campaign for Geico. If he’s looking for examples of broadcast’s failings, this is a poor choice. The Geico campaign works. It engages viewers. It turns them into buyers. It’s measurable, or at least testable. Geico sees an uptick in calls precisely when ads run. Talk about interactive. Once someone calls the number, they’re talking to a live human, the ultimate in interactivity.

Dumont, a partner at Questus, writes the commercials are “a reach”. To the contrary, mostly they deal directly with what people are concerned about. The success of the campaign ought to speak for itself, no matter what our well-founded leanings may be.

“We don’t make ads. We make connections.”

That being said, broadcast can only be effective these days with truly great creative. Entertainment value and craftsmanship are not enough. Great creative, to me, implies great execution against great strategy. It must compel action or change in behavior or attitude. The strategy must be informed by profound insights, which probably requires diligent research. All of which is consistent with Dumont’s article.

David Kennedy of Wieden & Kennedy, who as a young art director worked on Pillsbury Doughboy of all things, once said: “We’re really not in the business of making commercials. We’re in the business of making a connection.” This holds true today more than ever.

Dumont makes an excellent case that creating this kind of meaningful connection has become harder and harder for one-way communication. And more and more a job better suited for interactive media. Clients should take note. 


1 thought on “The death of (bad) advertising

  1. Pingback: Media Districts Entertainment Blog » The death of advertising? Maybe.

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