Dismantling the advertising industry
As artificial intelligence continues its stealthy but effectual penetration into our lives, an uninspired gloomy picture emerges. It’s one that prophesizes a world void of cultural and creative paradigms. Art and poetry will become inconsequential and consumers will be plugged directly into product inventory with no experiential or ambient environment. The dismantling of the age-old advertising model right before our very eyes.
But an advertising world built primarily on the basis of consumer data, is unimaginative and lacks creativity, the very ingredient that creates powerful motivations and emotional connections for consumers.
Consumers want to have a conversational relationship with the brands they love but they still expect the brand to be the lifestyle architect, engineering more creative ways to tell them why they should stay loyal.
British agency founder Sir John Hegarty contends, “The advertising business has forgotten its basic principles and has lost its courage”. There’s much profoundness in this statement and maybe the art of selling has been lost, or the industry is distracted by metrics, analytics, algorithms and artificial intelligence. But there’s need for a wake-up call. Falling advertising standards indicate that agencies have become too preoccupied with producing “engaging content” rather than fashioning inspiring advertising. This is promulgating the glut of irrelevant unbranded content, far removed from the core purpose of the product. Brands are becoming lost or forgotten in disingenuous content marketing mumbo jumbo. There’s simply too much unfettered content drifting along on a sea of sameness with no real purpose, and consumers are overloaded and overwhelmed. Agencies are becoming desperate to become digital experts, but more companies are likely to follow the likes of P&G, which slashed digital ad spend in 2017, demanding greater accountability from their ad agencies and the media industry. At US$16bn in 2017, digital ad fraud is prodigious with insidious internet bots wreaking havoc. Perhaps, it’s time to consider a new viewpoint. Don’t think digital versus conventional, think great advertising for great platforms.
An Advertising Renaissance
What can spark a rebirth of the industry? The focus has to be on the product, placing USPs at the core of the messaging platform, connecting primarily with the people who are most important to the brand – its fans, loyalists, advocates and evangelists, even prospects. Know that audience, their frustrations, fears, pain points, expectations, aspirations and what matters to them. That way advertising can sell by telling compelling stories in compact but ingenious and persuasive ways. It’s the art of selling. If you make a great ad and you interrupt the right person, the interruption won’t matter because they want the insights, they want to make an informed decision.
When we were challenged with keeping the Guinness brand relevant we focused on the brand’s heritage and its traditions, all the reasons why its fans stayed loyal. We highlighted the significance of Arthur Guinness Day to deliver some light education on the brand. We employed a clever messaging tactic “Guinness. Since 1759, it’s how the world spells Genius”. We then built a campaign on that thematic and extrapolated the messaging to make it relevant across all channels.
The aim should be to make brands timeless and transcend the ephemeral world of fads, trends and what’s hot. Pay homage to your brands, make them heroes, keep them central to your campaigns and make inspiring advertising!
Devin Griffith is the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of The G&A Group, an independent ad agency with operations in London, Dubai, Japan, Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana.