Ad Industry Can't Decide Whether or Not TV is Dead

Almost ten years ago, Joe Jaffe wrote a book entitled: "Life After the 30-Second Spot." As the title suggests, it was all about the demise of traditional media, specifically the :30 TV ad. In 2012, Brian Wieser, writing in TVNewsCheck, called reports of TV's death "greatly exaggerated" arguing against Henry Blodget who had just penned a Business Insider article about how the TV business is collapsing.  And at this week's ADMA Creative Fuel Conference, R\GA Founder Bob Greenberg is predicting the death of the metaphorical 30-second ad. So which is it? TV is dead? TV is here to stay? Can we make up our minds? If continuously rising Super Bowl prices are any indicator, TV as an ad medium is doing just fine. If you compare today's average prime time rating with those of just ten years ago, you begin to see a more dire picture. But it's not really all that dire. Yes, the effectiveness of TV advertising is declining but, at the same time, consumption of TV-like content is on a continuous upswing. It would seem to me the only thing that's changing is the words we use to describe what ad agencies do: place compelling content in front of the people most likely to be swayed by it. If we look at it that way, nothing's dying. It's just changing.

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Well we've heard it all before. Digital! Digital! Digital! All in with digital! So what's the new head of digital at Ogilvy New York, Lou Aversano, going to do to make his mark? He's not just going all in with digital. He's going to "aggressively invest in digital." Aggressively, I say! Anyway, what's more interesting is how Aversano got his start in the business. He tells AdWeek. "I was a Boston University finance major, and in my junior year I had to make up a class, so I took AdLab (a student-run ad agency) for the hell of it. The professor happened to be Walter Lubars, father of BBDO chief creative officer David Lubars. It’s a great program and I took it again senior year for no credit. I graduated and got a job at Bear Stearns. My first week there I thought, 'I’m 21 years old and I don’t want to live the rest of my life thinking woulda, coulda, shoulda.' So I quit my job without telling my father and interviewed at Chiat/Day New York. I didn’t get hired but got a job at N.W. Ayer as a secretary."

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The American Marketing Association has a new CEO; Russ Klein. Klein comes to the AMA from Arby's where he was chief marketing officer. Prior to that, he served as CMO for Burger King, 7-Eleven, and Dr Pepper/7Up companies. Of his focus upon taking on the new role, Klein said, “Disruption is the new normal in marketing. The AMA has long been a trusted source of insights for the marketing world and I consider it a real privilege to guide the organization into the frontiers that lie ahead. The AMA will continue to be a torchbearer in lighting up the pathways of change not only in the future state of marketing but commerce in general.”

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It's really no joke. One day, all media buying will be a done via programatic buying with nary a bit of involvement from human beings. And unlike the stock market -- also very automated -- which makes trades that actually matter as opposed to programmatic buys where if a mistake is made an ad simply doesn't appear, constant human supervision becomes irrelevant. Because in advertising, we just have the make good. In the stock market, consequences are a bit more dire. All of which is to say, it's no surprise agency after agency, much like Havas SA which just struck a programmatic deal with AOL, are automating as much as they can automate. Because, really, buying media is boring. And agencies hate boring. Winning a Cannes Lion on the other hand. Now that's where the excitement's at!
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4 comments about "Ad Industry Can't Decide Whether or Not TV is Dead".
  1. Leonard Zachary from EquityStep , July 29, 2014 at 9:38 a.m.
    Richard, TV is certainly not dead with all the digital OTT streaming on that smart TV screen. The TV dying you refer is the bundled TV and retransmission/cable carriage rights business model- that will not hold with the 20-30 year olds. Good luck selling bundled TV in the not too distant future to the upcoming generation now 5 to 15 years old. The folks who rely on centralized government laws to protect their business model in a free market and very competitive digital world that is converging onto to the TV screen, are living on borrowed time.
  2. Robert Barrows from R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations , July 29, 2014 at 11:25 a.m.
    If TV continues being mostly reality TV, no one will care.
  3. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , July 29, 2014 at 4:48 p.m.
    What's funny is that the statistics clearly show TV isn't dying nor is there any significant erosion. What IS happening is the ad people who desperately wish TV would die have become transcendent. Why do they want it dead? I think it's a combination of self-loathing (too many advertising people hate the idea that profitable client effectiveness is important) and a desperate search for their own unique story about why they're so cool. (And if digital media offer anything it's an infinite ability to take the same old thing and claim to clients you're doing something really break through and new. Sadly, there are a few too many clients who buy these pitches.)
  4. John Grono from GAP Research , July 29, 2014 at 5:15 p.m.
    The seers of the 'Death of TV' will be long gone before television is.
  • Lowe Lintas India Wins Warc 100 Agency Ranking

    The Warc 100, an annual list of the best agencies based on an analysis of winning campaigns across 87 different award events or competitions, has named Lowe Lintas India the number one agency on its 2015 list. The agency scored 213 points and was closely followed by AMV BBDO with 191 and Colenso BBDO with 148.

    Of the recognition, Lowe Lintas India CEO Joseph George said: "We have had a terrific run on creative effectiveness this year across the globe; and all the accolades have further reinforced our belief in the type of work we want to do and believe in."

    Chicago's Starcom MediaVest Group Chicago was named top media agency, followed by PHD Mumbai. 360i New York was named top digital agency with R/GA New York taking second place.

    The Warc 100 is a ranking of top marketing campaigns and companies that the organization says is based on their performance in effectiveness and strategy competitions. The organization does not disclose the competitions that it uses to devise the ranking.

  • This Ad Contest Could Get You A Free Trip to Cannes. Just Don't Tell Your Boss

    Here's a semi-hilarious promotion for Canada's National Advertising Challenge that brings to light an all too prevalent problem in the ad industry -- an overzealous focus on awards. But the promotion promotes just that -- an overzealous focus on awards, and in this case, awards for non-client ads developed simply to win those awards.

    Yes, this is what you brands are paying for. Because you know the creatives in the agency you've hired are going to be doing this work in the office, conceivably on your dime. But, hey, when you dangle the chance to win a trip to Cannes as the prize for this contest, you're going to have creative salivating like dogs in heat.

    Of the Challenge, NAC Marketing and Communications Manager Ellie Metrick said: "We have big aspirations for the NAC, but we were facing a serious comprehension issue within the creative community. This year's online video goes a long way in explaining that we offer creatives an opportunity to do original work in exchange for a chance to go to Cannes."

    But because I know all you creatives are just jonesing for this, the briefs go live March 2 and the work must be completed by March 30.
  • Havas Chicago Ignores Disastrous Effects of Open Office Space, Spends $10 Million Creating One

    Clearly Havas Chicago hasn't been paying attention to recent research that found open office space to be decidedly less productive than that of the old school office. The agency recently completed a $10 million renovation of its 81,000-square-foot River North office space transforming two floors of office space into a wide open, unproductive free-for-all.

    And get this. The agency used to occupy three floors. Now it occupies two. They say that's because the new office design uses space more efficiently. Translated into English, that means stuffing the same amount of bodies into a smaller space to save money.

    The new design has done away with all offices and added all the usual distracting crap you'd expect to see in an advertising agency: graffiti, a soda fountain and a bubble hockey table. They've even added bicycle racks and a "town hall" meeting area with bleachers. Oh, and they've given the new space a cute new name; Havas Village. Because yeah -- it takes a village to raise children and, well, that's pretty much what ad agency people are; spoiled little brats who prefer a playpen instead of an office in which to "work."

    Okay, that's harsh, but I can say that because I've been there. 

    Of the new space, Havas Chicago CEO Paul Marobella said: "The big part of this space, outside of how cool it is, is that it's really built for utility and built for a purpose. Creative, media, strategy and account all sit together, organized by account. What's different about us is we can make a decision on Monday and it will be implemented by Friday."

    Oh, really? How is making a decision on Monday and implementing it on Friday any different than any other agency that decides to do that?
  • Ad Man Offers Advice to Adults In Agencies Who Act Like Children

    It's really kind of strange -- and, well, depressing -- that actual adults with actual jobs in actual ad agencies that are actual businesses that, you know, are run by actual adults actually need advice like this, but apparently this is the case.

    Penning a piece for The Chattanoogan (what the hell kind of name for a news outlet is that?), Connect Marketing Head Honcho Clint Powell has some advice that really shouldn't be the kind of advice that actual adults need. Kids, maybe, but actual adults? No. In any event, he wrote the piece and if you've worked in the ad business for any length of time, you know full well there are, unfortunately, plenty of people who need this advice.

    His advice? Knowing when to say things clearly and in a way that doesn't waste other people's time nor make you end up looking like a fool. He offers up four things that are perfectly okay to say but for some reason, people are too scared to say them. They are "I am sorry," "I can not do that," "I don't know" and "Let's be clear." You can read his whole article for the details but, seriously, you really shouldn't have to. 

  • Jordan Zimmerman's Muscles Win Him Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Accounts

    Have you seen Jordan Zimmerman's biceps? The man is ripped. Ripped, I tell you! And here I struggle to do 5 sets of clean and jerks at 85 pounds in CrossFit class! Now, whether or not Zimmerman's muscles had anything to do with the fact that he just snagged an interesting assignment -- without a pitch -- from muscle magazine-heavy publisher American Media is unclear. What is clear is that the win would appear to be a perfect match for the agency.

    Zimmerman's agency, Zimmerman Advertising, won't be doing ads for the magazines, though. The agency will work with American Media to explore partnerships with other entities such as the National Basketball Association All-Star event AMI sponsored with Macy's a couple weeks ago. 

    The agency will take a close look at events like this and others to determine appropriate fits that match well with AMI titles which include Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, and Flex as well as National Enquirer, Star and OK. 

    Of selecting Zimmerman, American Media CEO David Pecker said he sought and agency that "reflects the aggressive growth strategy of AMI and has a proven track record of driving growth in multiple sectors and is a true strategic partner."
  • Toronto Agency john st. Hires Guy With Same (Almost) Name

    Toronto-based agency john st. has made an interesting hire. Hoping to beef up their digital services, the agency has brought in "an accomplished entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience building global digital media and consumer internet businesses from concept through to final acquisition."

    So who did the agency hire? The guy's name is Tom St. John. Yeah. No kidding. john st. hired St. John. Like, when does that ever happen? 

    Of joining the agency, St. John says, “I feel that john st. has done some of the most innovative digital work in the country for some time now, but I believe that there is room for them to lead the broader digital discussion with clients. Analytics, social ROI, branded content, mobile advertising, online video -- these are just some of the challenges our clients are facing, and we can help them maximize those opportunities.”

  • Is Your Creative Director A Douchebag? You'll Know After They Take This Test

    Ah, you've got to love one thing about the ad business. As self-centered and as egotistical as many in it can be (hey, I know, I worked in it), it's also refreshingly awesome to witness just how much those in the business like to make fun of themselves. 

    It seems like every award show promo and witty little agency puff piece wallows in the schadenfreude of skewering every element of the ad world. Just last week, we were revisited by "Who Said It? Kanye West or Your Creative Director." Now we've got the Creative Director Douchbag Detector Device, a "state-of-the-art-futuristic-hi-tek-gismo that will calculate the potential DBAG risk of that overly paid Creative Leader."

    Here's how to use the device: "Adjust the dials and toggle the knobs to the exact specifications you are looking for in said Creative Leader and….Beep! Boop! Beep! DING! You will know with 99.997% accuracy whether the Creative Leader you want to hire has real potential… to be a complete Dill Weed.”

    I'm sure they meant to say something far more derogatory than "dill weed."
  • No, Really! Taking Someone Else's Idea And Giving It Your Own Spin Absolutely Does Make An Original!

    It must be the week for glorious creative pontification. Just a few days ago, I shared with you a video created by David Brier which attempted to define the process of branding but ended up a full-on blatherific word salad of epic proportion. 

    Now we've got a video from Director Andrew Vucko. Yes, it's a little different from Brier's effort, but it's in the same vein. In the video, Vucko takes on originality -- a hot topic in the ad world, as many ideas are simply recreations of previous ideas. Vucko's point is that nothing is ever complete, nothing is final and everything is under continuous re-development. But then the video takes a nosedive into usual rhetoric about creativity putting a new spin on things by, get this, adding yourself to the equation. Now if that isn't the most perfect assessment of the ego-centric, "I am awesome. I made this" creative world, I don't know what is.

    Vucko explains the project, which began as something completely different, saying: "Eventually, I took a step back and chose to build something on the very topic that was plaguing me -- the theme of originality. From there, I searched for references and inspiration, coming across all of these interesting quotes on the subject. While at first each quote felt like a separate idea, as I continued to read, I realized that they could be combined into a single narrative."

    The video concludes with: "It's not where you take things from, it's where you take them to." So yes. It's perfectly fine to take someone else's idea and put your stamp on it.
  • Alex Bogusky to Launch Social-Good Start-Up

    It would appear that Crispin Porter + Bogusky Co-Founder Alex Bogusky is launching a new venture. Sources say the entity will be called Spiffly, which is being described as a sort of aggregated network of "companies and professionals making and supporting a new generation of consumer products that take into consideration people, planet and profit."

    On Tuesday, Bogusky tweeted: "Excited to launch new social-good platform very soon. Imagine an agency with a community (millions) and media distribution built in."

    When I responded to Bogusky's tweet and asked whether he could share more information, he said: "I can't comment at this point." Which is totally understandable at this stage of the game. Although it's said that Spiffly will be a joint venture with Disney/ABC/Univision's cable network and digital platform Fusion.

    The Denver Egoist reports: "The agency [Bogusky clarifies Spiffly will be a "startup in the natural food space," not an agency] will begin with work for non-profits and foundations doing issue-based pushes but will plan to expand to brands doing good. Fusion has offices in Miami, LA and NYC. The new agency [start-up] will be located in Boulder."

    To me, it seems the offering will be a people-powered sort of approach to advertising and/or content distribution. We'll know more soon enough.
  • Cannes Lions Wants Agencies To Send Worst Creatives To Festival

    Working with McCann London, the folks behind Cannes Lions have launched a new campaign that suggests agencies offer to send their worst employees to the festival of creativity this year...because it's cheaper than firing them and paying severance.

    The purpose, of course, is to make one last-ditch effort to inspire the -- shall we say -- less inspired by dropping them into the center of advertising creativity for one week. I guess if after a week in Cannes they still suck, well, then it's time to bid them adieu. Although you will have to pay them severance then, so the whole send-them-to-Cannes thing is, indeed, a gamble. 

    Headlines to the ads read: "Nisha, Strategist. Has dedicated seven loyal years to your agency. With very little to show for it" and Samuel, Producer. You fought hard to hire him. Responds to every suggestion with 'It can't be done.'" The ads are signed off with "Buy her/him a delegate pass. Cheaper than severance."

    Of the approach, McCann London CCO Rob Doubal said: "Although our campaign is humorous, it makes a very sensible point. Why should being a Cannes Lions delegate be the preserve of the already excellent? If we really want a more creative world, as we all profess, we should also be encouraging the not-so-excellent performers to be inspired by Cannes Lions."

    Funny stuff, this campaign. Trouble is, now everyone that is sent to Cannes by their agency is now going to have a gigantic inferiority complex along with nightmares about whether or not agency management thinks they’re up to snuff. 

    Oh, and the poor people who had to pose for the campaign -- branded losers for life!

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