The Ad Contrarian, A Response

(In response to this post)

Hmm, do you know what, although I mistook the original post by Dave as directing readers to *his* blog (sorry TAC – and Dave – I’m a TAC newbie), I can’t recant my reaction.

So, firstly: Dave I apologise, I’m sorry I took your name in vain, but to be honest I thought your ‘read this’ Tweet was in itself provocative, and when I read the TAC post I mistook it as an extension. My bad.

Secondly, TAC, I’m sure you’re lovely too. I’m sure you’ve got a trillion years of understanding consumer behaviour, and I’m sure you’re right about how venal, faddish and self-important the marketers you work with are.

But here’s the thing. The internet did change everything, utterly and without mercy. We have a globally distributed notion of justice. We have a globally distributed set of cultural norms. We (finally) have a near-universal language. We have a US President accepted as a good replacement for the universally reviled previous global leader who everyone in the world knows intimately, and who has been elected based on a third of the world’s cultural norms. We have a world of consumers who elect and buy, taken over from a locale of consumers you used to sell to.

Consumer behaviour may not have changed. But expectation, motivation, influence and conversion to buy have changed forever. The consumer, finally, is king. And TV, though still a powerful medium, hasn’t caught up despite 12 years of interactive TV. The day TV advertising can be segmented not by programme but by the individual consumer’s implicit or explicit at-that-moment requirements will be the day TV gets back on its feet. And yes, when we started an interactive TV agency for Lowe in 1998 it was arguably way too early. The fact it produced interactive TV ads for Tesco and Unilver, two of the most far-sighted marketers, doesn’t take away from the fact that it couldn’t make money – but it was necessary to help get the ball that may one day save the TV advertising industry’s arse rolling.

My own view about what people might remember is that it takes two types of people for progress to happen – the innovators and visionaries who come at things too early but set up the parameters of the experiment, and the reactionaries that temper the enthusiasm but enforce rigour. I’m quite happy to be in one of the groups, and I’m glad of the existence of the other, because your maturity means I can borrow, say, the discipline of data planning and prove that what we do works better for the new world’s consumers than what you used to do when it was the only way.

Glad this social media thing is here though, because previously the only way we could have an argument was down the pub or in the letters pages, so thanks Twitterverse and blogosphere, at least you’ve revolutionised how fast one man can flourish his own reactionary views, another can highlight them, a third can get it all wrong before correcting his mistake, and how fast presumably this will turn into pixels in the wind. Personally I’d much prefer to do this over a pint than in public, but hey, you know that when even the Iranians are using Twitter to complain about injustice, the world’s all gone and changed while you were busy watching television ;)

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