McBride: Agencies Must Seek the Next ‘1984’

SAN FRANCISCO Chuck McBride wrapped up Adweek‘s 30th Creative Seminar with a closing keynote speech addressing the fact that advertising is changing rapidly, with future trends growing increasingly difficult to predict.

“The fundamentals are still the same, but the vehicles we’re using are changing,” said McBride, executive creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif.

McBride showed Apple’s famed “1984” commercial and labeled it “the beginning and ending of the TV spot.”

“It was genius timing, a concept capitalizing on a moment and capitalizing on a medium,” McBride said. “That’s what we have to start doing these days.”

Tracing the history of advertising, McBride noted that advertisers invented TV shows in the 1950s, then commercial slots, then improved commercials.

“Now we’re hitting another cusp, running against the edge now [in terms of the public’s fascination with] computers,” he said, so it’s time for a new idea.

While some new ideas, such as Burger King’s Subservient Chicken Web site and BMW’s series of short films, have begun to surface, another “1984” hasn’t emerged.

He suggested the next breakthrough branding concept might take the form of a brand-sponsored movie or TV program, or even involve a return to an older technology, like a blimp. Or it could be a medium that hasn’t been invented yet, he said.

In the meantime, creatives have to come up with ideas that aren’t just TV spots, he said.

“Media is nothing but a blank slate . . . a page to do whatever you want with it,” he said. “It’s a little discouraging. I’m a little pissed off that we have this problem, and it feels like what we’ve been doing is sitting around figuring out who to blame.”

“We’re problem solvers at heart, and we have a couple of big problems in front of us. Let’s go solve a few of them,” he said.