Don’t Forget to Sell – The Unchanging and Changing Nature of Advertising

Part One

The Unchanging Role of Advertising

Some creatives, bedazzled by award-winning case study films that are so hot right now, believe that the highest goal of their jobs is to create work that will Change The World – cue villagers in a third world country smiling a lot, men or women in some urban setting crying a lot, or helpless domestic animals rescued from horrible circumstances. I’m all for ideas that make the world a better place, but I don’t think that’s the apex of advertising creativity.

David Ogilvy said “Your role is to sell, don’t let anything distract you from the sole purpose of advertising.” That’s why marketers hire agencies. To come up with impactful ideas so they can sell more stuff than their competitors. I’m sorry but they don’t pay us to improve the lives of people for the duration of a case study film. Don’t you think consumers can see through the gimmickry of one-offs?

Sometimes the right idea has an element of social good. But don’t simply assume that the best idea is one that must.

Part Two

The Changing Nature of Advertising

“Advertise” is an intrusive verb. “Check out that guy over there, trying to advertise his widget to me – F off!” The noun hasn’t got great PR either: advertising is something people have to put up with, a necessary evil. Yes, the role of advertising is to sell, that hasn’t changed, but the means has. We can create things that people won’t find intrusive or think of as a necessary evil.

You can influence people on social media. You can create something useful. You can collaborate with users on projects. Advertising has gotten bigger.

By doing more that, we can redefine what advertising means to people. And over time, people will say “advertising” less and say “creative idea” more. “Check out this cool creative idea I saw on Facebook.” Now that’s what I call advertising.