If advertising is dead, asks Ted Sann, how come you're reading this magazine?
When I heard from the Net people that advertising was dead, I really wasn't too upset. Actually, I think it's good for advertising to be dead every once in a while.
Look, baseball was dead. The stock market was dead. The networks were dead. Real estate was dead.
It's OK for inanimate objects to die. It almost always puts some life in them.
Finding out you're dead is a great wake-up call, a kick in the pants, a challenge to arise like a huckstering phoenix from profitable slumber and reinvent oneself.
Yes, the Internet is here. Yes, the Lords of Cyberspace are challenging the very existence of advertising as we know it.
So, what do we do? How do we resurrect ourselves and become advertising as we don't know it? Is renewal even possible with all these IPOed techies breathing down our pitiful Luddite necks?
Well, first, let's put a little perspective on this thing. Not to be primitive, but how do you think the ad guys who did the Burma Shave signs felt when radio came along?
Or, how people who did the Robert Hall jingle felt when they saw Captain Video?*
They panicked. They thought they were dead. They opened cheese stores in the Berkshires.
But, in the end, the ones who hung in and reinvented themselves said, "Hey, this is just another medium, another blank canvas."
And, that's all the Internet is: a wonderful, incredibly rich medium we haven't even begun to figure out how to use.
In the end, what will prevail on the Internet, like everywhere else, are ideas.
Brilliant, fresh, startling, compelling ideas that capture the minds and spirits of consumers and bring the spirit of a brand or product to life.
Ideas that bring emotion to information, that touch people, that move them in ways the information highway, to now, hasn't a clue about.
Now, who generates consumer ideas, brand-building ideas, better than anybody in the universe? People who make great advertising.
The skill set that makes great advertising can work in any medium. In the end, it will come down to who has the best ideas--the most creative, the most head-snapping, compelling ideas.
And, my money is on all those fresh and not-so-fresh faces I see in the halls and at awards shows. Brains bristling with the ideas that are going to breathe new life into us all.
So, when it's all in one box--television, radio, movies, the computer, the Internet, the phone and the sprinkler system--guess what they're going to call the stuff that moves consumers to make brand choices?
I think maybe they'll call it advertising. And then we won't be dead anymore.
*Yes, I know these are heavy anachronisms. There was radio before the Burma Shave signs, etc. Please don't write to tell me.