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January 04, 2007



Asking if the ad industry is doomed is like asking if there will be enough food on the planet in a bazillion years from now. Of course no one knows the answer to the question in absolute certainty, but you can sure bet that the question being asked means that we are aware of the issues, and ensuring we are going to do everything to adapt.

In this case it is certainly not the ‘end’ of the ad industry, or the ‘world’ as we know it! It may just be a gradual and almost un-noticeable change in our environment for the future. Yet, this debate has been around for years already and in part a massive reason why some Nuevo agencies have their ‘raison d’etre’.

The media environment has changed – that is the truth. That is not to say we are not an industry resiliently known for trying new things, we are ‘creative’ after all? Ever remember the Chiat/Day failure to launch the “virtual” office. I still bet it was in some of your business textbooks. Sure it was a failure, but everyone applauded them for trying and it was in response to one thing that was happening in office dynamics at the time “change”

Creativity and strategy is already being applied to things that are not traditional print or T.V. commercials, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call it advertising. So one could argue that we are entering a new growth stage, not a decline.

As for the responsibility within agencies to start thinking about this on individual businesses - I agree with Simon that ultimately the core of our business is focused around working with clients and helping them further their relationships with their consumers and driving their business, some thing the Marketing companies show no sign of turning their back on.

As for agencies they are starting to offer more integrated solutions as part of the response to change and bringing more services ‘in house’ to be able to stretch ideas past just TV and print. Some of the best interactive companies in the world are branched from big ad agencies.

That is not to say that we don’t have a ways to go, but agencies such as chocolat in North America (an offshoot of a Canadian ad agency) are even exploring branded entertainment is a new valid genre within the marketing/ad service sector. And more importantly another real creative canvas – think of the BMW films for example.

Of course with what is happening with Sky, TIVO, video on demand, interactive TV, and the number of stations just exploding we’re all going to have to think a little bit bigger than that 30-second spot. But is that not one of the most exciting things about our industry? Great opportunities are always arising….

….they always said that television was going to kill off radio. It never killed off radio. Radio just went to another place.


Is television advertising dead? Are we all doomed? A common enough refrain but completely incorrect.

Actually, we’ve never had it so good. Only we just can’t seem to see it.

Never in history has so much media existed.

Never in history has it been so easy to create new media to reach people with.

Never in history have people spent such a great proportion of their waking lives looking at all this media.

And never in history has that media been so rich, three-dimensional and involving.

And yet here everybody sits saying “the advertising agency is dead”, passively accepting the yearly margin declines from our clients and wishing they all worked for Weapon 7 or Trousers 8.

Have we all gone mad?

The only thing that is dead is the way we deliver advertising i.e. by interrupting people. By getting in their way.

For 50 years we’ve interrupted people’s favourite TV programmes; for 100 years we’ve got in the way of the film they went to the cinema to watch. For 200 years we’ve got in the way of their favourite newspaper.

How rude of us. Yet for 200 years what alternative did they have? So they had to accept it. And for our part the better intentioned (and maybe the more commercially astute) amongst us tried to minimize the intrusion by at least making it entertaining and informative.

But now we can’t. Soon most people with a half-decent sized wallet will have the technology and money to avoid our interruptions. Game over? Hardly.

All we have to do is apply the same skills we already have but deploy them in a different way. If we can’t bring our message to them, we’ll bring them to our message.

Out with advertising as an interruption. In with advertising as a destination. A place where people actively choose to go and spend time.

Science fiction? Not a bit of it.

In this brave new media world we’re literally awash with the capacity to get people to participate actively with media.

The only barrier is creativity. If creativity is king we’re home and dry. If we can be as entertaining, exciting, charming, inventive and informative as people’s TV, web and newspaper diets then we can do it.

And why not? Who says commercial content can’t be as entertaining as a TV programme? Or Yahoo. Or Youtube. Or The Archers? Who says the resources of a committed multi-national client and its determined agency can’t match this. If they want to.

And surely they’ll want to. What agency could resist the creative challenge? What client with well-off customers could afford not to.

And when you consider how much more effectively people take in information (up to five times) when they’re active participants rather than passive receivers, what a step-change in communications’ effectiveness. What a step change in contributions to a client’s business. What a step change, dare one say it, in income?

And if all this wasn’t enough, what a contribution to the environment. In this world where creativity is king there will be no more Ocean Finance. No more ‘Here-comes-the-science-bit’. No more ‘Hello-I’m-an-actor-pretending-to-be-a-consumer-so-believe-me-and-buy-this-product’. There can’t be. In a world where only the original, entertaining and informative survive, such pollution will be removed from the public and private spaces of the country by Darwinian logic. Or at the very least banished to the deserts of channel 4736 where nobody worth talking to will be watching anyway.

So is the advertising agency dead? Are we all doomed? Please…

Forget interruptions, grasp the mantle of total creativity, puff out your chest with pride and march forward into a brave new world populated by all your wildest (and most craven) dreams.


I feel some measure of responsibility whenever I look at that chart. What year did I join advertising? 1991....


You're right. I've just re-analysed the data with your contributions stripped out and the curve now goes up. New solution. Stop Pete from doing any more work. That'll teach you to give the world Barry Scott and the 'Yes Car Credit' woman.


As I said, there are some smarty pants out there...


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