IT’S THE END OF ADVERTISING CREATIVITY AS WE KNOW IT (and you should not feel fine).
Of course, Facebook and Twitter have had a lot to do with fostering this new-age GIF/meme creative witlessness. But they are only platforms. People make ads. And more and more, the people making the advertising “content” are untrained, inexperienced but “tech-savvy” people: People who don’t know what a campaign is, don’t know how to dramatically communicate a product benefit, don’t know how to consistently image-brand, don’t even know what the fuck branding is.
This is #sad.
The overuse and near meaninglessness of “Creativity”—the “C” word—has been a long-running joke, both inside and outside the industry. Seriously: What the actual fuck is a “Creative” Director” (cool white bro)? But, the new digital/social/native agencies popping up like lowermybills ads are trying to eliminate the “old-school” creative element of advertising. They’re trying to make it artificially complicated, trying to turn it into a technology. Advertising is not technology. It is communication. And good advertising is persuasive communication. Which means it is an “art”, not a science. Sorry, all you Silicon Valley disrupters with Peaky Blinders haircuts.
2014 has seen the continued growth of: StuntVertising, ShockVertising, PrankVertising, EventVertising, CelebVertising, CrowdsourcedVertising, EmpowermentVertising, FemVertising (pathetic), StorytellingVertising, ContentVertising, Appvertising, and CatVertising. Everything but IdeaVertising. Ad people know what I mean when I say IdeaVertising, but for you others, what it means is: a consistent ad concept, across all media (What Millennial nitwits now call “seamless storytelling”). But we’re seeing less and less of this because coming up with a GREAT, BIG idea that sells the bejesus out of a brand is hard work. Really hard work. It takes time, and a lot of meetings between client and agency(s).
It takes experience, something that’s becoming less important this generation by the second. “Pfft. I can learn what you know, in a day on the internet, pops.” No, you can’t, child. Just like you can’t learn a great hockey wrist shot in a day, you can’t learn how to make great creative advertising in a day. It takes practice. Take 100,000 wrist shots, and you’ll get yourself a better wrist shot. It is inevitable, I learned.
I’m not going to link to any specific 2014 examples of what big-time media bloggers who’ve never created an ad in their lives called “great” ads—ads that at best, were mediocre. But I will say that many of those bloggers lauded those ads without believing their own words, glowingly posting them strictly for pageviews. That’s not just #sad. That’s #unethical.
Why should you believe this pessimistic assessment of my industry? Because I’ve been obsessively following advertising creativity for 25 years now, via this copyranter blog (started in 2005) and as a New York City copywriter/creative director. Very few—if any, I would confidently wager—ad creatives/critics in the world have looked at/sat through as many ads as I have during this period. I’m not really bragging; I’m mentally damaged from browsing the same 50+ shitty websites day-in, day-out, seven days a week.
I’ve watched the quality of creativity decline steadily over the last 10 years, and even more so in the last two years. This trend is indisputable.
And I see no renaissance coming.