Thursday, February 25, 2010

fish out of water

Do you imagine what your media consumption would be like if you weren't in advertising?

If I was not an ad (wo)man, hardly any billboards would catch my attention, except maybe the really massively gross DingDong Dantes-bronze-and-only-in-underwear ones. I would never read the paper. I would flip ads during every TV show commercial gap.

I wouldn't find myself thinking that this or that brand must not have had a budget for talent fees given the slew of unremarkable-looking people they cast in their television commercial. I wouldn't be imagining the near-scuffle between clients and creatives about an insistence on Koreanovela-looking elvish posers when I watch an ad for a certain dandruff shampoo. I wouldn't have wondered what kind of lame strategist told X newspaper to advertise that they have more pages by a million percent, even if those pages are made up mostly of ads. I wouldn't find myself wondering which DTI represenative this or that softdrink brand must have wooed in order to get a permit for their prize-by-the-minute text-in-raffle promo.

I wouldn't have taken note of all the additionally utilized ad spaces during my trip to Beijing (taxicab seats, bathroom mirrors, art spaces), or the building-to-building LED billboards in Times Square.

I would probably be one hundred percent banner blind. I definitely wouldn't smile when I come across one of my own banner ads, and I especially wouldn't click on any of them just in case the positive interaction from my single impression might raise the CTR.

I might still have found Ashton Kutcher hot (might?!) but not because he said in his SNL opening that he does "social media optimization".

I don't think I would start every work morning by checking RSS and I don't think I would have started mobile browsing... I never would have started playing casual games like the very addictive Chocolatier series because a client almost got into on-demand prepaid gaming and I wanted to try to understand the market.

The first thing to come to mind upon seeing a great content idea like Expedition 206 or an AWESOME viral like The Man Your Man Could Smell Like wouldn't be how long the clients gave their agency to develop the campaign, how roomy their digital budget was or how clearly set their objectives and key communication were in their ad brief.

I wouldn't have Become a Fan of Penshoppe or Magic 89.9, just to see how they are maximizing their Facebook accounts. I wouldn't be following Scott Monty, Alex Bogusky or Chris Andersen in hopes of picking up some good social media, digital creative or tech intel.

In fact, I don't think I would have joined Facebook until maybe a few months ago. I definitely wouldn't be registering on any and every social network I come across just in case it takes off, and then at least people would know that I was there "from the start".

Marshall McLuhan said once that the only thing the fish doesn't notice is water, and for normal people that is media. Most people, most regular people, will follow Ellen because they like her or want to win a prize, not because they want to see how she engages her audience via microblog. Most people will click, view and pay attention to ads they like, not because they are ads that their competitor has just launched. Most people will catch sight of a billboard or a print ad only because it is interesting, shocking, revolting, appealing. And most people only notice a minute fraction of the 3000 ad images that are catapulted their way everyday on the train, reading the paper, checking their e-mail or watching their favorite TV show.

Ad men have given up a luxury. Of seeing a promotional material, and of not noticing. Of TV or radio as white noise. Of banner blindness. In as much as they say this about the average consumer nowadays, we really do need to be "always on". Because part of our jobs is to go beyond consumption, and be critical consumers. Because we need to keep up, because we need to be ahead.


ONID said...

i like this bea. interesting perspective on our life as ad people :-)

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