The phrase “Big Data” tends to send big chills shivering up the backs of almost everyone on Madison Avenue, but none more than creatives. To overcome those anxieties, data-driven marketing consultant SSA & Co. has recruited one of their own -- self-proclaimed “advertising legend” Jerry Della Femina -- to help smooth the way, and sooth some creative egos in the process. Della Femina outlines the “partnership” in a recent op-ed in the Financial Times describing the shift as “the second Golden Age of advertising.” Which begs the question: What was the first Golden Age? Based on Della Femina’s column it was the 60s era of bona fide ad legends like Bernbach and Ogilvy, which he says has been romanticized in pop culture via AMC series “Mad Men,” (a show Della Femina claims to have inspired with his 1970 book, “From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front Line Dispatches from the Advertising War.”
In his column, Della Femina describes a front in the ad war defined by Big Data, digital media giants, and the merger of Publicis and Omnicom.
“Now,” he writes, “that advertisements are more algorithm than ‘Mad Men,’ the television series depicting Madison Avenue in the 1960s, the merger is being interpreted as the end of the golden era of advertising. It has been seen by the news media as a move by these two ad agencies to shore up resources in order to compete with the giants of Silicon Valley.”
Della Femina seems to agree with that sentiment, suggesting, “We may soon be watching a hit TV (or Web) series dramatizing the moment when efficiency became as hip as creativity.”
We’re not sure exactly how soon the American public will be tuning into (or clicking on) some “Mad Algorithm” series, but if Matt Weiner writes it, we’ll check it out too.
Meanwhile, you can watch other installments from those wonderful folks at SSA and Della Femina.
The collaboration, SSA President David Niles says in a carefully worded press statement, “has already given us the path to create ideas and new service offerings that I am confident will do for advertising what we have been able to do for many in retail, manufacturing and professional services. Jerry's involvement underlines the importance of creativity as together we look to new processes that reflect the new reality of the advertising landscape and embraces the role of data in informing creativity."
With copy like that, who needs algorithms.