Has advertising become the product or are we just smoking our own fumes?
February 12, 2009
We are what we eat.
Not just food as the adage was intended, but media too. The books we read (or don’t read), the movies we watch, websites we bookmark, TV shows, news, music, our growing collection of “friends” on Facebook. And so on.
All of this is stuff we consume on a daily basis, every waking moment really.
And then there’s advertising. Not only do we consume it, we make it. But unlike bakers of bread, we don’t make ads to be consumed but rather to facilitate the consumption of something else. Or do we?
Many of my peers believe advertising is an end product. Sometimes I do too. A viral gets watched thousands of times it’s successful. A commercial film wins a creative prize it, too, is successful. We tend to tack on results, real or otherwise, as an afterthought, kind of like the sprig of parsley near the steak.
Alas, advertising wasn’t invented to be the steak. Barnum and Bailey understood this. The Greatest Show on Earth! Advertising was intended to be the sizzle; the promise a product or service might deliver.
Nobody goes to McDonalds and orders the clown. Or do they?
Things change. People now clamor for the sensational posters of the bearded lady. They may cost thousands of dollars at auction. The actual lady? Not so much. The propaganda for the circus became more enticing than the circus itself. The advent of graphic design and post modernism changed the world, and, needless to say, our business.
We makers of ads have gone through the looking glass. The Burger King Whopper is exactly the same sandwich but –and I use their own word- the “hoopla” created for it by Crispin Porter & Bogusky is even bigger. The disturbing “King” became a consumable property. Video games. Viral stunts. People started buying the clown!
That is the not-so-secret wish of every creative I know. And I think it might be coming true. The stuff we make became a product. I’ve heard the smartest, most famous people in our business say this.
Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Or am I just high?