The End Of Advertising

Have you ever heard of CONANDA? For those of you who answered that it was America’s neighbor to the North, you’re an idiot.

CONANDA is actually The Brazilian Ministry of Human Rights’ Council of Rights of Children and Teenagers, which earlier this month issued a resolution effectively banning all advertising to children under age 12 and imposing restrictions on campaigns aimed at 12- to 18-year-olds.

Resolution #163 provides that any marketing communication to children under 12 years old is abusive, unless it falls under one of the narrow exceptions to the Resolution, namely campaigns aimed at educating children about good nutrition, safety, education, health and other aspects of children’s social development.

Congressman Luiz Carlos Hauly, proponent of the bill, regards advertising to children as abusive because it is  “a coercion or extortion” of children, who would be compelled to buy products that are “unnecessary, superfluous and sometimes even harmful.” Also, in his opinion, these products would be usually incompatible with the average Brazilian family income.

But seriously, tell us what you really think!

Congressman Hauly is not really wrong, is he? He’s talking about Ronald McDonald, Happy Meals and childhood obesity -- or these days, Apple’s steps to curb “in-app purchases” from children who are bankrupting their parents on games like Temple Run, Clash of Clans or FIFA (actually, that’s just my household).

This is not the first time Brazil has taken major steps toward imposing a “tax” on advertising. In September 2006, the mayor of Sao Paulo passed a Clean City Law, which essentially outlawed all outdoor advertising. 15,000 ads had to be removed, and store signs had to be shrunken down.

In the past, we’ve seen countries like Turkey ban alcohol advertising completely or severe restrictions on tobacco advertising, like in the good old US and A, but never before have we seen a preemptive strike against an entire category like in Brazil.

So why should you care?

For starters, our beautiful, innocent and naïve young children are the only hope left for the old, tired and battered warhorse that is advertising. Milliennials flat out reject advertising. And the rest of the aging population, which has grown up with advertising as a part of their lives, might have a higher tolerance than most due to their cultural comfort, but at the same time, they’re also not getting any younger.

Our children have a better connection with advertising because Chia pets, Ninjago and Disneyland are all more relevant to them… but this too shall pass. And when Burger King, Spinmaster and Nickelodeon are replaced with Pfizer, Ford and KFC, it’s pretty much game over.

This is all part of embracing our marketing “heresy”: a concept I learned from author Andrew Winston. At its core, this is #zeropaidmedia at its most fundamental basis, namely the idea of preparing and planning for a world where advertising is not a right, but a privilege; a necessary evil; a luxury tax.

Ultimately, when it comes to innovation and taking on that which we fear most, we have two choices: take the first proactive step ourselves, or wait for the disruption to come to us  -- and when it does, we’ll reluctantly be dragged, kicking and screaming into the belly of the beast.

Doesn’t sound like too difficult a choice at all.

Before soda cans are banned from schools (oh, crap, that already happened), calorie counts become law in every fast-food outlet (ditto, at least in NYC), I’d submit that it’s time to embrace your heresy and triangulate your plan from there on end:

--      If you’re in the newspaper industry, what if you gave away your paper for free -- and still nobody wanted it? What would you do then?

--      If you’re a beer brand in the U.S., how long before alcohol advertising is banned, as in Turkey? What would you do with all that money?

--      And if you’re a big, mighty brand, how long before your lack of innovation, speed to market, openness to experimentation and/or tolerance for risk becomes your albatross or nemesis? Please refer to Uber, Airbnb, Dollar Shave Club, Zipcar of Coin for more information and context.

 “Amor Fati – ‘Love Your Fate,’ which is in fact your life.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Tags: advertising
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5 comments about "The End Of Advertising".
  1. Rick Monihan from None , April 15, 2014 at 11:50 a.m.
    More laws to restrict rights. Sounds bizarre to me. I don't see any value in this approach, at all. If advertising doesn't work (a common refrain among those who hate it and seek to restrict it), then why should it matter if kids see it? If it does work, then certainly laws protecting children are sufficient. The concept of the nanny state being effective remains something I am very skeptical of. All it can do is continue to limit rights further and further until we are all wards of the state. At some point, for people to get what they really want, they have to become criminals.
  2. Terry Nugent from MMS , April 15, 2014 at 5:50 p.m.
    Where commercial speech is limited, political speech is at risk, leaving the state with a propaganda monopoly.
  3. Steve Goldner from Social Steve Consulting , April 16, 2014 at 9:55 a.m.
    Great piece. But advertising is not dead. It requires a second coming and that has not happened since radio days, print days, etc.. The second coming is a "Smart*Story". (Soon to be unveiled).
  4. Joseph Jaffe from Evol8tion, LLC , April 16, 2014 at 12:15 p.m.
    @Steve - such suspense! I look forward to the reveal. @Terry - I don't think this is about commercial speech, I think it's an indictment on advertising's manipulative influence on our children and our role (responsibility?) to protect them. @Rick - it's actually proof that advertising works too well...with minors...which is a problem in of itself. If only it worked as well with us old folk...
  5. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , April 16, 2014 at 5:47 p.m.
    The beauty of a competitive market is that people innovate - many in savvy & very useful ways. And some abuse - so regulation & public opinion need to crack down on them. But "End of Advertising"? Seriously? Here's where it's clear our Brazilian congressman is using a popular and entirely wrong view of how advertising works: "compelled to buy products that are “unnecessary, superfluous and sometimes even harmful.”" Let's take the Happy Meal. It's not the advertising. Mickey D's succeeds by offering families what they need - and the advertising lets them know about it but isn't the REASON it succeeds. They also have contributed heavily to the obesity problem by offering extraordinarily cheap fat filled calories - like cheeseburgers for a buck. There's a beautiful moment in Food, Inc showing how a family of 4 can eat at Mickey D's for the same price they'd have to pay to buy enough apples for the family. But let's not blame it on advertising - marketing plays a vast role. The contribution of advertising is far more limited...and I'm not naive. I have children and have lived successfully through the "Let's get a Happy Meal, Dad" phase... But I also earn enough to buy healthier options.