Category: Ideas

Are we giving up on intensity?

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Back in 1986, Stephen King wrote about what he believed made for a good advertising idea:

A good advertising idea has to be original enough to stimulate people and draw an intense response from them… Any advertisement is competing not just with other advertisements but also with editorial, programmes, people, events and life itself… if an advertisement is to succeed it has to involve the receiver and entice him into participating actively in whatever is being communicated about the brand”

Ripple dissolve to the present day…

The daily need for new content”

Creating more work for less money”

Stories are superior to ads”

In the whole history of mass advertising, the number of transformative ideas that have created wealth via advertising you can count on one set of fingers and toes”

It’s about delivering relevant content at the right time”

Now of course the media landscape is shifting beneath our feet.

Of course we must think about the new ways we can and must connect people to what we make.

Of course we must work on new stages.

Create new shapes for new spaces.

And new experiences for new kinds of attention.

But when did it happen?

When did we give up on intensity?

When did we decide that trading intensity of response for reach was the great leap forwards for marketing communications?

When did we become so fixated upon production and distribution efficiencies that we stopped asking ourselves what kind of ideas the world needs?

When did we fall out of love with ideas?

When did we mistake borrowing the reach of celebrities (sorry, influencers) and packaging it up in hyper-relevant mediocrity as the great, necessary innovation in marketing communications?

When did we decide we need to bring so little to the table?

When did we decide that a steady stream of assiduously targeted, contextually relevant wallpaper was the way to go?

When did we decide that the measure of success was production efficiencies?

When did we decide that striving for media efficiencies was preferable to striving for behavioral change and real businesses effectiveness?

When did we decide that always having nothing to say was preferable to sometimes actually having something to say?

When did we fall for the siren call of infinite inventory and conclude that we must fill it?

When did quantity become more desirable than quality?

When did we conclude that the essence of our creativity was clever distribution strategies?

When did we give up on the idea that we are in the memory business and opted instead to be in the exposure business?

When did we decide that relevance was to be preferred over the capturing of imaginations?

When did we reduce the implications of marketing’s new-found “physical and mental availability” orthodoxy down to the mere need for reach?

When did we decide to vote for entropy?

When did we decide to erase the first lessons of branding – vividness, coherence, consistency?

When did we decide that the coherence and shape and form of a brand is worth giving up for a million tiny forgettable moments of cost-effective relevance?

Of course the media landscape is shifting beneath our feet.

Of course we must think about the new ways we can and must connect people to what we make.

Of course we must work on new stages.

Create new shapes for new spaces.

And new experiences for new kinds of attention.

But when will we look beyond the narrow horizon of reach and relevance?

When will we stop squeezing the idea out of what we call (without so much as a trace of irony) ‘content’?

When will the flight to quality begin?

When will we embrace intensity again?