What’s been the biggest problem for the advertising industry in the last decade?
Was it the audience all now streaming, skipping or blocking?
Was it the growth of digital advertising?
Or the growth of social purpose over proper positioning?
Was it the commoditising effect of turning ‘creative’ into a noun?
Was it the lack of new start-ups to shake up the status quo?
Was it a decline in copywriting skills?
Was it a lack of diversity in personnel, especially on the age front?
Was it agencies losing the nerve to tell clients what they really thought?
Was it people forgetting the importance of a brand’s distinctive assets?
Or professors arguing that was all that really mattered?
Was it a growth of self-loathing in the face of environmental concerns?
Or the pomposity of thinking agencies are there to ‘create culture’?
Or the delusion of thinking ‘punters’ ever did talk about ads in the pub?
Was it zero-based brands with zero-based budget?
Or the crash?
But I tell you what. I really miss good advertising.
I miss the wit.
Most of all, I miss the ideas.
They are still there. But they’re becoming fewer and farther between.
I was reminded of this when reading Trevor Beattie’s excellent tribute to Paul Silburn, the man behind John West’s ‘Man vs. Bear’ and the John Smith ads with Peter Kay.
It showed that what advertising needs, above all else, is a creative leap.
Clients can be crystal-clear on their objectives.
Consultants can construct a perfect brand strategy.
Planners can polish their creative brief until it gleams.
But then you need some magic.
Without that, it’s just proposition-as-headline or positioning-set-to-music.
So Happy Leap Year, Adland.
Here’s to an idea-filled 2020.