Advertising Is Dead and I Don’t Care

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Wait — don’t go anywhere just yet. This isn’t going to be yet another article about the death of advertising, which, if you were to believe the pundits (and good lord, why on earth would you do that?) has steadily been dying for the last decade.

Fast Company published yet another article on the end of advertising, and while it made some good points in addressing technology’s disruptive role in advertising and marketing, it sparked the same debate and vitriol the industry has been spouting in the war to define the future of advertising.

Personally, I just don’t care about that debate — and I’m in advertising — it’s the wrong conversation. The future of advertising is not talking about the future of advertising. I care less about the endless debate over platforms, mediums, channels or how many degrees of 360 your campaign touches. I care more about simply doing good work that gets results.

When Steve Jobs passed on the reigns of Apple to Tim Cook, his only advice was to, ‘do what’s right.’

It’s easy to overcomplicate the business world. We love to feed our egos with buzzwords, weighty PowerPoint decks and general douche-baggery of the latest digital toy.

But it’s much simpler than we make it out to be.

:: Know your product.

:: Know your customers.

:: Know how to serve them.

Yes, the technology landscape is charging like a tsunami with little regard for the businesses currently standing in its path. We’ve already seen yesterday’s untouchables fall hard and fast — Kodak, Blockbuster, Borders — each replaced by a company thinking about how to create a better product that understands how to better serve their customers and tells an engaging story that captivates them.

Instagram, Netflix and Amazon. The list could go on.

But in the midst of these changes, the foundational question is — do you see a problem, or an opportunity?

Advertisers should worry less about the supposed death of the sixty-second spot, and focus more on bringing their creativity to help clients identify how their brand doesn’t become the next Blackberry. Smart brands like Nike, Red Bull and Burberry are only going to continue launching world-class digital experiences and services, and agencies have a huge opportunity to identify, shape and build those experiences.

This is an immense challenge. But it begins with understanding your product, knowing your customers and zealously striving to deliver an experience for them keeps your focus where it should be — just doing what is right.

Ryan Moede is Director of Client Strategy @14Four focused on building useful digital experiences with ad agencies. Drinker of coffee. And wine. Oh, and good beer, too.


Yes Yes Yes!

The 'problem' IS an opportunity.

Excellent quibble...2nd to last paragraph...Smart brands like Nike, Red Bull and Burberry are only going to continue to launch world-class digital experiences....." Why not remove "digital". Digital is old is about the experience. Nuff Said.

Great article Ryan. Totally agree.

"doing what is right" would also include treating the vendors as your partners to aid in this process would it not?. Many of us feel as we haven't been done right what with bidding wars,abuse of license's,forgoing "promises" if you do me this favor,etc. Advertising is depicted in movies and tv shows as populated by less than exemplary human behavior for a reason, it's people's experience..."doing what is right" would include changing that as well.

I think the inherent question at hand should always be: who is touting the death of advertising. I feel that there is a disconnect between those claiming that it's dead and the reality of the situation. Technology will not kill advertising. No matter how disruptive. It will change it. It will morph the face of it. It will make it more challenging, but it is no more a threat than the advent of the computer was to print design. Adaptability is key. And that's one forefront that advertising is, generally, pretty good at meeting. Don't stop to ponder the future. Evolve along with it. This has been a change happening for a while now. As sure as there are already digital ONLY agencies popping up all over the world. Advertising isn't dead. It's evolving.

Great article Ryan. I'm glad I read it and I'm glad you got this internal dialogue started!

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