Relevance, Simplicity and Utility

David MacGregor discusses the product orientation of advertising

There is a sensational presentation on the web by an ad planner called Jeffre Jackson entitled ‘Interestingness’. Watch it. It is, without irony, one of the most interesting presentations I have ever seen.

In it Jeffre quotes the late great advertising legend Howard Gossage “People don’t read ads, they read what interests them – and sometimes that an ad.”

One of the problems in the advertising industry is that there seems to be a pervasive cynicism – almost a disdain for the consumer. I have heard them describes as ‘civilians’ (i.e. anybody who is not in advertising). The point of working in advertising is to advance one’s own career – win awards and be quite fabulous. This leads to cynical, ‘postmodern’ advertising that rarely connects with the people who, apparently, we are talking to.

Is it any wonder that people don’t like advertising when people in advertising don’t like them? Or worse, don’t understand them.
In the era of the consumer who pulls information towards them people who push products become (and there is no kinder word that would be as relevant) redundant.

The point of advertising is to be interesting. Sometimes interesting means something more mundane than the average, or even excellent (by the advertising industry’s own measure). When you are wondering what cough medicine will work for your child when they are suffering from a productive cough? When you can’t figure out if a hybrid car makes more sense than small conventional engine or how in god’s green earth Kiwi Saver works.

The future of advertising is certain to be about content. Relevant, simple, and useful. - not really dissimilar to the central proposition of advertising legends like Bernbach, Ogilvy and Gossage. They had respect for the consumer - each in their own way.

I’m not so sure even Bernbach, the great granddaddy of modern creative advertising, would be as stuck in the past as today’s practitioners with their obsession with execution (product)

Advertising isn’t about ideas and creativity – it is about solving problems for the people who go shopping.
Cynical hucksterism is so 20th Century.


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