If you have been following this column, this little scribble will come as no surprise. Much as old fogies like me regret the passing of the era of 30-second crafted television commercials and full page ads, with beautiful typography and photography, we in the advertising industry have to accept it is gone. In the creative department, our job in the old days was to produce great television spots and outstanding print ads. And it was clear for all to see who had produced the best ad that week. We knew the agency and we watched their baby on the television or admired it in the national newspapers. Now the creative team may be asked within week to create a mobile app or a video that will go out over YouTube and be seen by millions. Next week it may be a retail event, an ARG (alternate reality game) or even a product design.
Agencies cannot just think about producing an advertisement. In 2001 (yes, it was that long ago, when a good many people were still not on the Internet and YouTube had not been launched), Fallon produced a series of films shot by top directors for BMW. We didn’t realise it then but this heralded the end of traditional advertising. The scenario of a copywriter and art director, sitting down in isolation, to create an advertisement is starting to become history.
The separation of the media agencies from the creative agencies has bugged me for many years. It was, and is a ridiculous situation, driven by the profit motive. The hot agencies like Crispin Porter + Bogusky never did spilt media and creative. But it looks as I need not have got hot under the collar as it looks like this separation will likely die a natural death in the new environment.
With the changing nature of the execution and implementation of the work we produce when marketing a product, more people have to collaborate. Now I hear media agencies are going beyond planning/buying traditional media and hiring creative directors and other innovators to take them beyond their current role. Digital agencies are hiring writers from the traditional agencies. We are seeing some unexpected bedfellows in the creative departments. The writer and art director are now teamed up with a technical designer and maybe an external production firm. The planner’s role is beginning to evolve and that cute girl, who was the agency TV producer finding us showreels, now has to take on daunting new tasks and is expected be an expert in everything.
We are witnessing a rebirth of our industry. Some will resist this change and it is natural for people in my age group to look back with nostalgia to the “good old days”. But in my view, this era is just as exciting as the revolution in ad styles led by Doyle Dane Bernbach in the late 50s and early 60s which so excited me when I joined the industry.
Right now, if you are working in the ad industry or you are currently the marketing director of a major brand, consider yourself fortunate to be part of this seismic change and embrace it.