Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Future of Advertising

When the chips are down the job of advertising has always been to sell more stuff. That’s the plain unvarnished truth and we need truth telling now more than ever. This job of advertising is just as important – or more important – in down times as it is when the good times roll. As no one is expecting growth in consumption over the coming months (far less the annual 4 percent it’s been for the last 14 years) understanding what people want, what they need, and what inspires them, will be more important than ever.

It’s no secret that the U.S. has been on a spending jag. Saving was pushed firmly onto the back burner with the heat turned not down, but off. Now people are waking up –with a huge headache. The automatic response is simple: ‘stop spending.’ But automatic responses can be counter-productive and this one comes from a very different place to the far smarter ‘start saving’. One is negative, the other positive; one looks backwards to what was, the other forward to what can be. And saving is more than just putting money away, it is also about getting value when you shop, something that requires information communicated in a way that makes sense to your life. Sounds like a job for advertising to me.

Too often it’s claimed that advertising is all about selling people stuff they don’t want and need. If it had been that dumb and short-term advertising would have been up against the wall decades ago. Instead advertising has always been a shape-shifter and it is transforming faster now than at any time in its history. We still need advertising to guide us through the complicated world we live in. We need advertising to help us make smart choices. We need advertising to connect us and entertain and inspire us with the possibilities of the future. We need advertising because it is based on the simple idea that people can be trusted to make their own decisions.


Piotr Jakubowski said...

You've hit the nail on the head here, Kevin. In theory and according to textbooks, in down times advertising should increase to remind people what is out there and available for purchase as they become more selective. It's interesting to see that this isn't the case in times of crisis.

What is a shame, though, is that when the going gets tough, the first thing to go is usually the marketing budget. This really doesn't make sense. "We're losing money/not selling as much, so let's cut the budget to the vehicle that helps us sell". Foolish.

We're living in scary/uncertain times, and let's hope that the consumer is ready to live up to their task.

Sophee McPhee said...

Advertising equals opportunity. Today, the opportunities are particularly exciting and plentiful. The opportunity to acquire a significant share of voice, to create vivid awareness, to strengthen the bond your brand has with the people who matter (to you and your competitors!), to pursue creative and previously unexplored tactics, and to exploit under-priced media rates are all up for the taking. Those who are rational, confident and forward thinking will be leveraging and, eventually, enjoying what this economic climate has to offer. Those who live in the now and are dictated by fear will make the situation worse for themselves, today and tomorrow.

Rana Hawa said...

Rana Hawa. Bilingual Copywriter. Saatchi KSA. I believe this is the year of changes par excellence. changes on all levels, be them political with Obama's presidency, economical with the recession or social with the global long lost new found interest in people shifting their attention inwords, to their soul and searching their spirit for hope and inspiration to come out from under the rubbels.
You said Advertising should be, now more than ever, about what people need: people are going to spend anyway, c'est la vie, but now they need to learn how to spend wisely, that is put their savings in the right place. My guess is that the advertising industry is going to help people make those choices.
It is going to be ugly, but isn't advertising all about finding the beauty within?!

elias Kai said...

Let us taking from a very pragmatic and practical angle: What adjectives do you think people will start using more when searching on

Will it be cheap? low fares? more than luxury - quality terms adjective and verbs?

So yes, catch them when they search your services and products BUT when they do it with more adjectives and verbs we use in downtime economies.

Thanks Kevin :)

Elias Kai

yvette.bowlin said...

Absolutely. Advertising is the key in affecting consumer choice and arousing spending in an otherwise frugal consumer. Advertising is a recession's lovechild believe it or not.