Friday, 12 January 2007

The truth that dare not speak its name!

The age of the 30-second TV commercial are over!

There’s a lot of hand wringing on Madison Avenue these days. Companies like Virgin Atlantic are concluding that advertising on TV is too pricey and the effects too difficult to measure.

Advertising must adapt to a coming world where consumers enjoy total control and will no longer tolerate tedious commercials that hold them hostage to messages they care nothing about.

There are still a lot of people in the business that don’t accept what is about to happen. That is myopic. Perhaps it is time for the advertising and TV industries to get contact lenses, because the latest research suggests that trouble lies ahead.

However it is what was not said in the article that confirms the impression that most people in the industry(s) still do not understand what the process of communication is all about.

To start with, advertising people tend to think of it as ‘message sending’, and thus spend hours and hours crafting a message, primarily a 30 second TV Commercial and then arranging for it to be transmitted.

Marketing people are moving away from that totally inaccurate picture, however fmcg marketing people still haven’t cottoned on to the fact that “you can sell more goods to less people, and still be more effective”, that is if you understand the benefits of ‘conversations’.

Media people, newspapers, magazines, TV and radio lovingly call themselves ‘the communicators” and say they “are in communications.”

They are not…never have been… all they do is prepare messages and then send them…they most certainly not communicators.

They are totally unaware of those delightful words cognitive dissonance; selective exposure and selective perception. Wonderful words that, however, profoundly affect the meaning of our message and we ignore them at our peril!

However it is the ego that chooses to ignore the word communication, the ego and that other overworked word ‘creativity’, hence the rush to hire, at greater and greater expense the latest creative genius who is going to sell all those wonderful goodies! Utter rubbish!

Certainly in this day and age of commercial clutter creativity alone is no longer the answer, as if it had ever been, to the commercial needs of marketers. Creative genius is not the sole criterion to the success or otherwise of the marketing campaign.

Most advertising today depends on a single-step communications model. A message sender – the message – receiver.

This basic model assumes that the sender is active, whilst the receiver is inactive or passive and the message is comprehended properly.

In this case if the advertisement is creatively prepared and sent through the right medium and, if it cuts through all the other noise, and then if it is decoded correctly the advertisement has done its job!

Dealing with the future will require significant changes in the ad industry. Media research- how advertisers measure what people watch and how they respond to ads-will have to get considerably savvier about gauging media consumption habits. Creative ad teams will have to understand the communication process better and then make involving ads that people are actually interested in reading/watching.

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