(Note: This must-read article is pretty long. Print it out and save it for lunch hour fun. Just my recommendation.)

I got the idea of this article after watching the above ads, by Serviceplan M√ľnche in Germany. They're nicely executed, great art direction, and convey the simple message that Magic Scotch Tape is ultra effective. It'll probably get the creative team something nice at Cannes, or in anyone of 50+ different award shows in our industry.

It's just that I'm thinking that somewhere in Germany, a client for 3M has objectives to attain with his brand/product. His agency-of-record presents a funny, clever approach that says exactly what the product does: it holds things together. O-kay. Said approach is presented to consumer inside a magazine. Consumer goes "Heh. funny", and flips the page.

Total bill (my estimation of course) for this process : from $60,000 and up. And what did 3M get for that money? The same thing that watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon produces: entertainment. I took print as example, but the same thing happens on TV and on radio. A marketing action that doesn't encourage a consumer reaction in response is empty information.

Where could be the return on investment on this marketing action? Doesn't it seem cavernous to say that, nowadays, simple exposure to a Scotch Tape ad will make a consumer feel good about the brand, hence it will be its #1 thought when buying tape
? Nope. Will being a "top-of-mind" brand offer a product tighter guarantee for extra sales? Nope-nope. Will Scotch Tape develop a long lasting, faithful relationship with the consumer by showing him/her funny, clever ads and promotions? Nope-nope-nope. All of this is starting to smell rank. Even the term "consumer" smells rank. "Consumer" sounds like a mindless pig buying away gobs of everything without consideration for anything.

When speaking about someone performing the action of looking for something to buy, we should roll back to the word "shopper". Nowadays, The Shopper is in charge, because the shopper really shops. The Shopper is informed. The Shopper compares. The Shopper talks to shoppers, who talk to Shoppers. The Shopper searches for advice. The Shopper is more product-oriented than brand oriented. The Shopper doesn't want a product that "delivers more", the Shopper wants to find the product that "compares better". The shopper wants to find a product that's just perfect for what he needs, that fits his/her lifestyle or brings novelty to it. And still, The Shopper needs some brand-name love, some flag value. And all this doesn't mean The Shopper buys only products and goods ; he/she can "buy" a cause, "buy" a service. There are so many these days, people shop for these too.

Advertising is a motor of commerce in our economy. There's no denying it. But it's just not done very well anymore, or for the right reasons. Lots of ad agencies are being paid too much for campaigns that don't work, and couldn't work anyway. Not because the message is weak, mind you. More because the media is outdated. Lots of clients are currently throwing millions out the window, because they're afraid to move out of the grasp of traditional media, hiding behind numbers and patterns. Lots of agencies and clients still don't know how to speak with a Shopper.
The most recent womma.org newsletter, featured an article from the New York Times (clickable link) : Nike Backs Off Traditional Ads, Gets Closer to Consumers. Wow. And Nike's corporate vice president for global brand and category management doesn't have kind words for conservatism: “We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive,” Mr. Edwards says he tells many media executives. “We’re in the business of connecting with consumers.” Blunt, and brilliant. Read the whole article, it's an enlightening moment.

Advertising sometimes still treats people like its the Roman Empire: "Panem et Circenses" - Bread and Circuses (or games). But advertainment is not the way to go. It's not about creating 30 second, hair-raising TV moments anymore. It's not about creating clever print ads, or artsy layouts to satisfy the the eye and masturbate the mind.

Advertising nowadays is about creating conversation. Advertising nowadays is like this hot person you've been eyeing at a post-modern art exhibition, coming up to you suddenly, grabbing your hand and whispering in your ear "Let's blow this popstand. Let's jet and have fun out in the city. I'll present you to my friends". Advertising should be a constant motor for making people act, move, buy, see, talk, discover, play and react.

This doesn't mean that traditional media are dead. This means that they're not the main course anymore. They need to be used as gravy. Accompaniment for new, emerging ways to communicate, to generate conversation with The Shopper. All media need to form a chain that interacts, moving The Shopper around, encouraging him/her to take action - to "buy" into something, figuratively. Out with million-dollar TV-and-Billboard campaigns, in with budgets attributed to creative media that generate word-of-mouth, that generate concrete reaction, that let The Shopper be the vector of mass communication.

Is your advertising doing that right now? Great. It's not? Write me. I know a guy who can help you, hahah.

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