Do Ideas Need Ads Anymore?

I don’t think there’s much question that the quality of a really great ad is dependent on the quality of the idea it’s built upon. Ads like DDB’s the 1960’s iconic VW “Lemon” or any of the ’90’s “Got Milk” campaign we’re memorable high concept ideas that influenced consumer behavior in the pre-Facebook, YouTube, Twitter days of advertising.

There was a time in the not-so-recent past when print truly made a difference in brand advertising. When people bought a product because because they believed it made them appear smarter, more sophisticated, or more intelligent. Not only in their own mind but to others as well. No more. When consumers of advertising messages also became the creators, a tectonic shift occurred.

The 20th century ‘analog’ idea became the flexible, agile, stretchable, shareable ‘digital’ idea of 2011. One that doesn’t rely on ads anymore. One that doesn’t fight with competing brands for the consumer’s attention. Not anymore.

Today, ad ideas battle against every other message out there that people see, hear or read. Slugging it out against more than just advertising messages. Trying to get noticed above all the other bits of information, from RSS feeds to  blog posts to Facebook walls to a countless stream of text messages.

The thought that I’ve wrestled with in the past few days is this: “Have ads, as brand building blocks, finally become irrelevant and unnecessary?”

In a word, probably. Much as I still love creating them, (I really do) they’ve sadly become the Jimmy Carter of media… aging (not very gracefully), occasionally attracting some attention, but for the most part, they’re irrelevant and unnecessary.

Here’s proof. Name a print campaign that made you want to buy the product without going online first.

Don’t misunderstand me. I like nothing better than to gaze upon a two-page print ad with a killer concept, pithy on-point copywriting and art directed to the nines. But the times they are a changin’…  too fast, maybe. Tick, tick, tick. Waiting three weeks for the next copy of Wired to get a new print blast of brand personality just doesn’t cut it in today’s 24-hour, spin-dry, news cycle world.

So just give me ideas. Lots of them. And keep ’em coming. Ones that solve problems. That satisfy a need or desire. Hopefully the ones I have. In any media. Any time. Every day.

I recently read that match.com created 100 commercials this past year. Talk about speed dating!

So content isn’t just king. It’s King Kong!

But I for one am glad. Really glad. Because for us idea junkies, well, we’ve become more relevant and valuable than ever before.

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