TiVo, cable, and the Internet were together supposed to spell the
death of advertising as we used to know it. It was thought that you
could no longer sell toothpaste via 30-second spots on the top show on
Thursday nights and full-pagers in the biggest newspapers and
magazines, and so advertising would have to adapt or die. In an age
where we are overloaded with information, with messages, and with ads,
many people would have bet that advertising would die.
It may still die, but if it is dying, it sure is having a golden era.
Changes in technology and media have indeed forced advertising to
adapt, and boy has it ever. Ad agencies are producing more elaborate
and clever campaigns, centered not around snappy slogans but
off-the-wall characters (Subservient Chicken) and practically
feature-length movies (BMW Films). New ad types are being developed,
like 2-second blurps ("D'oh!"), video snippets made especially for
YouTube, and Flash-animated pop-up ads. Product placement and entire
product-based shows are a response to the ad-skipping we all seem to
In short, desperation spawned innovation. And this is why I will
always trust the free markets. The quest for profits and the
fight for survival are two motivators that catalyze far more
productivity and creativity than anything else you can think of, to
the benefit of consumers like you and me. In advertising's case,
their near-death experience just might have helped usher them into
another golden era.