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".
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  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.

  • Brooklyn Artist Sues Starbucks For Allegedly Copying Her Work

    Brooklyn artist Maya Hayuk spoke with Starbucks agency 72andSunny over the course of eight days regarding her artwork and how it might be incorporated into promotional work for the new Starbucks Mini Frappuccino. But after the eight days, she told the agency she was too busy to create new work and the talks ended.

    Upon launch of the Mini Frappuccino, Hayuk felt the rainbow-style artwork was a bit too similar to work of her own and she filed a $750,000 copyright infringement lawsuit against Starbucks saying the finished product was "strikingly similar" to her work. 

    The lawsuit states: "Starbucks brazenly created artwork that is substantially similar to one or more of Hayuk’s copyrighted works.” Hayuk's lawyer added: “When things like this happen, it cheapens the value of the art -- it’s really true. And her only source of income is her art.”

    For its part, a Starbucks spokesperson said: “We are aware a complaint has been filed, and we are investigating the allegations.”

  • New Agency Theme Song Generator Totally Not As Exciting As 'AdWeek' Editor's Picture of Couple Having Sex on Red Carpet at Cannes Lions

    This is most assuredly not as exciting as AdWeek Editor David Griner's picture of a couple having sex on the red carpet at Cannes Lions a day ago, but, hey -- we can't all be in the perfect place at the perfect time. Anyway, nice work, David. 

    Okay. Back to the mundane world of stupid things agencies do when, apparently, they have no client work to keep them busy. Digital product design agency O3 World Labs has developed an app that plays a person's favorite song (anthem?) when they walk into work. 

    The mobile phone app pairs with an iBeacon, which is paired with a Raspberry Pi (a mini computer) attached to a sound system. When the app senses a person in the office, a digital chain of events occurs and the individual's theme song is played for all in the office to hear. 

    The agency says the thingamajig will "make those first few minutes in the office just a bit more pleasant." I say, after the first play or so, co-workers will probably be gouging their eyes out wishing the stupid thing was never cobbled together. 

    Check out the project video here .
  • This Map Re-Draws the World According to Cannes Lions Wins

    Global agency We Are Social has created the Cannesogram, an interactive cartogram that reveals how countries have performed over the last ten years at Cannes Lions.

    The countries are displayed with a combination of color and size that changes according to how successful they have been at winning Lions. Users can drill down into many of the categories using a timeline to find out which countries were most successful in specific years.

    Hovering the cursor over a specific country brings up its record of Cannes Lions wins in the selected year and category -- Grand Prix, Gold, Silver and Bronze.

    Of the map, James Nester, creative director at We Are Social and a Cannes Lions Cyber judge for 2015, said: “There’s always a lot of debate about which countries do best. So we thought we’d use data to show the world according to Lions wins. It’s fascinating to see how fast the creative landscape has changed. And it’s revealing to see that different countries consistently own different categories.”

    We Are Social’s interactive cartogram is based on data from Cannes Lions: International Festival of Creativity, between 2005 and 2014. Among the interesting patterns revealed are:

    - Cyber is consistently dominated by the U.S., Europe and Japan.
    - Film is still a category the UK rules, alongside the U.S.
    - Outdoor is ruled by Brazil, with Europe also performing consistently.
    - The UK and Europe have been doing well in the relatively new category of PR.
    - Brazil rules in terms of press.
    - South Africa is the king of radio.
  • Design Studio Offers Coloring Book Filled With Cannes Jury Heads And Invites Delegates to Get Creative

    In conjunction with their presence at Cannes this year New York-based design and animation company the STUDIO has created the Cannes Coloring Book along with the accompanying Twitter hashtag #ColorCannes.

    If you're in Cannes and you visit STUDIO's booth at Little Black Book & Friends Beach between the Carlton and the Martinez, you can get a free coloring book and pencils featuring all of the Jury Heads including BBDO’s David Lubars, Grey’s Tor Myhren, Matt Eastwood of JWT and more.

    The coloring book is also on Facebook. Anyone who feels creative can upload their masterpieces to Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #ColorCannes.
  • 'Cannes You Please Shut Up': Tumblr Gleefully Pokes Fun At Stupid Agency Tweets

    It's Wednesday. It's Cannes Lions week, It's awesome, right? Mostly, yes -- but certain aspects of the festival are just, well, annoying. Which parts? The parts where ad agencies, brands and other parties attempt to be witty and intelligent with their social media activity. Sadly, and annoyingly, this fails most of the time.

    A new Tumblr post entitled "Cannes You Please Shut Up?" has taken on the task of collecting the most inane, most insipid and most annoying posts and posting them for posterity's sake.

    Posts include poking fun at Interpublic CEO Michael Roth enjoying an #unskippable moment on a yacht, Havas Group posting images of super-smug people accompanied by stupid  #HumansofCannes quotes, something about Martin Sorrell eating his own children and super insipid comments like Ogilvy & Mather tweeting: "If we don't push our creativity, then we can't evolve."
  • 'Cannes We Meet' App Offers Cannes Lions Delegates Tinder-Like Hookups

    It seems the "hook up" is the predominant theme at Cannes Lions this week. Just like Barbarian Group's Dumb Phones, Virool's "Cannes We Meet" helps delegates connect with other delegates.

    Cannes We Meet is a web app that works just like Tinder. After you visit the site and log in using LinkedIn, you can swipe right to meet or left not to meet in a manner very similar to the Tinder dating app. 

    Of the app, Virool CEO Alex Debelov said, "We know that clients meet agencies, agencies win business, startups win funding and products find buyers. Now we're helping bridge that gap and propel our industry forward."

    Nice effort though I'd venture to say that I'm not all that far off base when I suggest rose-fueled delegates are thinking about propelling forward something entirely different than the industry while boozing it up in Cannes.

  • Barbarian Group Unleashes Tinder-Like Action At Cannes With 80 Dumb Phones

    As a fun little experiment during Cannes Lions -- because, after all, sitting on a yacht drinking rose all day long gets pretty boring -- Barbarian Group has handed out 80 old and bricked phones, each programmed with only five numbers. 

    Each of the 80 people can call or receive calls from 5 of the other 80 people to have a random chat, meet in person or, well, you can use your imagination.

    Advertising Age's Alexandra Bruell is testing one out and has had calls with an anonymous fellow with a British accent, a Vox Media person inviting her to a party, a French person who spoke no English and Nick Parish from Contagious.
  • Mullen Lowe to Donate Value of Every Cannes Lions Win To Charity

    Mullen Lowe has launched a program this week that will see the value of any and all Lions it wins during Cannes Lions donated to hunger and earthquake relief efforts in Nepal.

    The program, Can Your Lions, encourages other Cannes Lions-winning agencies to join the cause by declaring their intention on the site or by supporting the effort publicly using the hashtag #canyourlions.

    According to the Can Your Lions site, it costs fifty cents to feed a person in Nepal for an entire day. Based on that number, a Grand Prix -- worth $2,906 -- would feed a person for 5,812 days and a Gold, Silver or Bronze -- each worth $1,280 -- would feed a person for 2,560 days. 

    Currently, it appears that calls for industry participation have so far gone unanswered. Mullen Lowe Group is the only pledging partner listed on the site. Come on, agencies! After all the obscene cash you spent to get to Cannes this week, donating the value of your Cannes Lions wins is just a drop in the bucket. 

    Of the effort, Mullen Lowe Global CEO Alex Leikikh said, “We’re excited to be in Cannes celebrating the best of global creativity, and we’re hopeful that the global creative community will join us in sharing our good fortune in support of this important humanitarian initiative."

    Step up, people!
  • 180LA Recruits Cannes Lions Judges With 'Most Direct Recruitment Ad Ever'

    Leading up to and during Cannes Lions, a handful of the world's best and most respected creatives convene on jury panels in Cannes, France to judge the world's creative. These judges are the cream of the crop. Any agency would love to have them work for their shop --  but how does an agency reach out to all these amazing creatives all at once? Easy. Turn your Cannes Lion entry case study video into a recruitment ad.

    180LA did exactly that by submitting a case study video of an entry into four Lions competitions; Film, Press, Direct and Radio. So as jury members were in the midst of reviewing hundreds of entries, they were also delivered a sneaky recruitment video. Quite brilliant actually, and from the tweets some of the judges sent, the stunt seems to have gone over quite well.

    Y&R/Bravo Miami VP Creative Director wrote: "Hey @180LA thanks for the offer in the middle of the judging process. Lol. I'll call Monday." Proximity Creative Director Eva Santos wrote, "A case study just called me by name and offered me a job. Great idea @180LA #canneslions "lionsjudging."

    Delivered with the drollest of droll voice overs, jury members, if not interested in the offer, are asked to "pass this idea to the shortlist and help change the life of another CD."

    Check out the video here.

  • Union Creative's 'Cannescellation' Is The Perfect Gift For Everyone Not In Cannes This Week

    This week, of course, is Cannes Lions week -- that annual Festival of Creativity thingy to which the entire advertising industry heads each year to consume massive quantities of rose, bask in the sun, mingle at the Gutter Bar and oh yeah -- hopefully take home a few Lions.

    Alas, not everyone can make the trek to Cannes and for those who don't, witnessing all the fun everyone else in the ad world is having is, well, excruciatingly painful -- yielding a major case of FOMO. So what's an unlucky soul to do when the biggest event in advertising is occurring without them? Ignore it all, of course.

    Well, thanks to Union Creative, that's now entirely possible. The agency has created a Chrome plugin called Cannescellation  which will eliminate the deluge of Cannes Lions-related tweets flowing from the South of France -- which, in the case of a non-attendee, accomplish nothing but to make the blood boil with raging jealousy.

    Now, if only there were similar solutions for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Periscope, Meerkat and Pinterest. But hey, at least it's a start.
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