The return of "authentic" communications


When I worked at McCann this was ALWAYS the first + last slide in every presentation deck.

In the olden days (the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s), before the internet, there were many local, national and international research houses that worked closely + ethically with ad agencies and their clients to identify the intersection between the consumer’s life and their product(s). They wanted to know what would make you stop, consider, try, buy, buy again and recommend one of their products. And how much the brand halo from one of their products might affect your attitude towards other products they have to sell.

While some research houses still exist, a lot of their work and insights were set aside when Google came along and told the new aspiring generation of ad agency folks that there was a faster + cheaper solution: make up a bunch of ads – not just one or two – run them all, and just pay a few cents for those that your prospects “clicked” on.

The rest is history.

Google got very, very rich.

Hundreds of thousands of stupid people around the world, that had taken a graphic arts course and the Google ad word course but couldn’t get a real ad or media agency job, went back to their basement and became Google’s retail PPC sales team.

While some of these people were bound to do well because they were smart, insightful and driven men + women caught in the millennial demographic + technology evolution squeeze, most did more harm to our industry than good.

There was a time when Media Directors, Creative Directors and Account Directors used research to “light the way” as Master D. Ogilvy used to say. They prepared for client meetings like defense lawyers prepare for a strong defense.

But Google convinced a generation that they should just throw anything and everything at the wall – and see what sticks - or clicks. 

Perhaps the tide is finally turning again.

Millennial teams appear to be re-learning the two cardinal rules of advertising (that were written by their great-grandfathers) given their rejection of superlative based "headline" copy (that does not work) and their new preoccupation with “authentic narratives”. A new term for what their parents and grandparents called positioning and U.S.P.

1.  You can’t shine shit (twice).

2.  The best story (or sales strategy) is still a simple Truth Well Told.