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Beware the Ogre by doing positive actions going beyond the screen

TV ads are rising and their value is proven. It’s an effective way of spreading the news that a new product is there. But more and more, we’re hearing people being tired of them. Every time someone sees an ad, even if they like it, there’s a big ogre that tells him “don’t let them fool you, you have already been fooled many and many times now.” And that is because people know more about marketing than ever.

There’s the paid, the owned and the earned media. I’m just talking about the paid here.

Will this ogre increasingly grow?

The system

Today I saw a documentary about GNH, a very interesting concept from Bhutan – one of the happiest non-tropical countries on earth -about where should we focus our development and our way of life.

Even though I’m not going to discuss the concept, it’s mentor states that so that people can accomplish happiness, there are many things Western countries are doing wrong.

One of them is that if we agree that happiness does not come with pleasure and that desire evolves into suffering (until we fulfill it), then advertising can be understood as one of the main problems of society. At least traditional advertising.

If consumers fully understand this – many do – traditional ads are doomed.

Bhutan has been the last country to adopt TV, and when it finally did in 1999, social problems started to arise – youth fights, alcohol, drugs etc. – many think that one of the main causes being advertising.

But in our system, we become specialists and the companies in which we work communicate so that our system flows. Unless we want to work as farmers, which may be why Bhutan people are so happy, to work in the consumer system has proven effective, even though it should clearly be moderated.

Do people agree that our system needs to change? Specially after the crisis bang (or during), there is a certain shift of where people want to head. Studies state that we want profits to be re-distributed in us (instead of Lehmann), and we are every day more connected and implied with each other, specially through the net. We want to simplify our life, desire less and be efficiently and objectively informed, which means, grosso modo, less traditional advertising, in the sense, “buy this, you need it”.

Maybe we’re more prepared mentally than Bhutan, but, is communication, in any form, a necessary part of the system? As well as to communicate novelties, ads increase sales and finance entretainment (could we live in a quieter Mercadona world where only art&news speak?).

Humans have always needed stories and entretainment as a society, it’s in our nature. The difference from Bhutan, for example, is that we have replaced myths told in bonfires for brands and movies, which follow certain archetypes which may inspire us (easiest: Harley Davidson as the rebel model to follow). If ad men didn’t talk about brands, people would talk about them anyways.

However in certain categories many don’t make a difference when buying (private brands). On top of it, there are now too many ads on TV to remember, and we simply zap.

Resuming, a form of advertising is necessary for the system unless we want a radical change, people need some sort of myth with which to identify themselves and their motivations, although we want the system to change and ads don’t necessarily have to remain in the way they have been until now – specially not so repetitive.

If society wants to change, why can’t advertising change with it too? At least a part of the mix – some “traditional” ads may well be part of our culture.


Having said this, as necessary as it can be (unless radical change happens), we all feel deep inside that something in this field should change – except some fantastic cultural and iconic ads – and as I said, studies indicate it, but how?

People are creating barriers to advertisement (desire) and are not responding. Some ads don’t add value. Some can even dislike a brand for its repetitive advertisement. They can be funny or dramatic, but because it’s nature is to sell people tend to untrust ads, even if they get the right insight.

In the new concept of organitzation we’re looking for, there’s also room for a new concept of advertising – some brands are already realizing this like this or this.

As one of the fathers of Account Planning, Stephen King, said, the end of advertisement is “to create a certain state of mind in the potential buyer”.

People are realizing that constant desire is harming them. We have to get emotional to get in touch with people, and we have a budget to do so. Before agencies could get this done with simple messages, but now this is increasingly difficult. Specially if there’s nothing really new to say.

What can we do with this money? Why don’t we get this money and do positive actions in name of a brand beyond the screen? These actions could give benefits to the potential buyer (i.e.: useful actions on streets or iPhone apps) or to society/planet (humanitarian/ ecologic actions). There could also be a campaign around it to monitor it.

If it’s related with the concept of the brand, people would appreciate it and, if we’re relevant, we may pass the barriers of people and connect emotionally with them, while communicating the essence of the brand and it’s products.

Brave brands can get the benefits of first-movers, generating followers as the leader of a herd.

At least as a part of the mix – “ok, it is a good brand, and, hey, it does cool ads too”.

Quoting Mr. Jon Steel ”brands that span national, social and cultural divides can be a greater force for good than governments”.

We’ll increasingly see bits of it everywhere, like herehereherehere or here.

I don’t think you should feel about a film. You should feel about a woman, not a movie. You can’t kiss a movie.

Jean-Luc Godard (via revolvver)

Same thing for ads.

“Account planning is a constant beta” Paul Woolmington, Director of Strategic Planning at Naked

Walky @JWT

“We must keep dialogue from destroying the mystique of the brand” Andy Payne, world creative director from Interbrand.