Reading this brief post by Jeff Jarvis, a man I respect and appreciate in many ways, I have to think about his premise. “Advertising is failure,” he says to Steve Rubel for an AdAge piece. I’m quoting a quote of a quote here:
In an age when competition and pricing are opened up online and when your product is your ad, you need to spend your first dollar on the quality of your product or service. If youâ€™re Zappos, you spend the next dollar on customer service and call that marketing. If the next dollar goes to advertising, there has to be a reason â€” and if the product is good enough, that reason may fade away. . . .
He’s not wrong, and yet, some degree of advertising will always be necessary, because it’s product news. We need advertising to know of things like feature changes, new opportunities, and shifts in the status quo.
How much impact does most advertising carry? Less and less, I imagine we’ll all answer, and why? I say it’s because of this: most advertising fell off its original premise: to inform.
Here’s where I betray my allegiance to the premises laid out by people like David Ogilvy (that link will be the 3rd book about or by him that I’ve read in as many months). I think the reason we say advertising no longer works is that we stopped receiving useful advertisements. Entertainment overtook function.
I think Jeff Jarvis is right, insofar as where he chose to go with his premise. In his thought-provoking book, What Would Google Do?, Jeff talks a lot about what comes next in a world where ads have stopped working. The book is essential, I’d offer.
Thing is, I think advertising is far from dead. Further, I think there’s the potential for a renaissance of quality advertising. I think the tools are here. I think the opportunities are powerful. All that’s required next are the minds and the passions to deliver the new (and by new, I might mean very old) advertising to people who seek to be informed instead of entertained.
What say you?
Photo credit marxchivist