Advertising is big business. Please do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
As someone who no longer has a “horse in the race” (as the saying goes), advertising is alive and well. This will be a truism until someone discovers a better way to get information from one brand in front of a mass audience that might be inclined to learn more about the product/service and/or buy it. Brands need consumers and consumers can be found in an audience (sometimes large… sometimes small… sometimes highly targeted… and sometimes mass). According to Broadcasting & Cable, global advertising and marketing spend is looking like it will be close to 5% in 2019. Here’s what the article, Global Ad And Marketing Spending Up 4.6% in 2019, says: “The 2018 gain follows a 5.5% increase to $1.299 trillion in 2018, and PQ Media is projecting a 5.1% compounded annual growth rate from 2017 to 2022. PQ Media pegs advertising and marketing spending in the U.S. at $500.19 billion in 2018, up 5.5% from 2017.”
Just let those numbers marinate for a moment.
It’s not just half a billion dollars in the U.S. (or over a trillion dollar globally). It does not stop there. How much of a country’s GDP is driven by the results of advertising as well? Pundits who want to sell books, keynote addresses, consulting services, or who want more clicks, likes and shares in social media love tossing around the “advertising is dead” and/or dying mantra. Advertising is changing. Advertising is getting more difficult. Advertising is more fragmented across different media and formats. Advertising is having a harder time making an impact. But advertising is not only here to stay, it drives brands (and the economy) forward.
Case in point…
The Internet went apoplectic yesterday over an ad by Gillette. If you want to watch the spectacle from the cheap seats, it has sparked an interesting debate online. It has also demonstrated how polarizing Gillette’s creative approach was (which may have been the point). I have not watched the commercial above. I have simply been “a market of one” watching my Facebook, Twitter and social feeds light up with opinions on the creative, execution and the right of the brand to attempt to tag itself on to this movement. All of this criticism is fair play for such a brand, such a statement and the times that we live in. My only comment (that I posted on Facebook) was this:
“I haven’t watch the Gillette ad that everyone is talking about, but here are my thoughts: Everyone is suddenly talking about Gillette and not Dollar Shave Club or Harry’s. When was the last time you thought of Gillette or mentioned them? Mission accomplished (because the mission was for the brand to get a lot of attention). Meta-thought: If you think advertising is dead/dying, you’re not paying attention.”
It’s true. Advertising works.
It’s fair to ask if all of this attention will now hurt the brand or if it will help sales? Time will tell. I feel like there’s another conversation here about the power of branding versus creating an engine of direct response. This spot was about branding. This spot was about advertising. This spot was about a brand’s attempt at both re-positioning and purpose. This spot did what any brand would want it to do (if the intent was to spark a controversy/conversation): It created a lot of attention over and above the impressions that were purchased.
Scoffing at success. Scoffing at advertising.
It’s amazing to see how impossible it is for professionals to separate the message/creative (and their feelings towards it) from the bigger picture. This is a win for advertising. It validates how a paid piece of information can pierce through the cluttered culture that we’re living through. It validates that an ad with a push towards an edgier emotion gets more attention (both the good and the bad… and this ad has a lot of both). It proves that if an ad captures part of the zeitgeist, people will proactively go to YouTube and watch the ad (close to 15 millions views as of this writing). It proves that a traditional advertising execution can still go multi-platform (and fast). Lastly, it proves that until a Google AdWord creative or Facebook targeted ad gets this type of attention, that advertising has its place in the consumer experience.
Those billions and trillion of dollars mean something. Ignoring them because it doesn’t fit a personal narrative doesn’t make it irrelevant.