August 11, 2010

The "Give-Up" Strategy, Part 2

If you can't hit homers, declare that the object of the game has changed, and it's really all about good bunting.
There are a number of popular beliefs behind new age, web-centric marketing thinking. They include the following:
  • The era of mass marketing & advertising is over
  • Markets are "conversations"
  • Consumers seek "relationships" with brands
  • The furtherance of this relationship is accomplished through a process called "engagement" and is best achieved on the web
  • The "big idea" is dead (see yesterday's post)
At best, these propositions are dubious. At worst, they are self-serving and unsavory fairy tales fabricated by people looking to hustle a buck. I have dealt with many of these notions previously in this blog. Today I want to talk about the last one -- the supposed death of the "big idea."

To a substantial degree, digital ad agencies and digital gurus have accepted and helped spread the notion that the big idea is dead. The question is, why?

It seems perfectly obvious that with the enormous growth in media consumption, with the colossal increase in the number of marketing messages the average person is asked to pay attention to, it is more important than ever to have an idea that sits up and attracts attention. So why would some in the digital crowd go out of their way to deny this?

To answer this, the first thing we need to do is look at where the really good online work is coming from. To a surprising extent, it is not coming from digital agencies.

For the next 5 years or so, social media marketing maniacs will be hitting us over the head with the new poster child of social media marketing -- the Old Spice campaign. Like them, I believe this campaign is terrific and will continue to be extremely successful.  However, there are two things we need to remember about it:
  • It started as a TV idea
  • It was not done by a digital agency
In fact, according to Adweek...
"...(traditional) agencies can claim more success in some areas of digital marketing."

At Cannes, for example, top honors in the Cyber category went to Wieden...and DDB Sweden....The Cyber Agency of the Year Award went to Crispin Porter + Bogusky."
This must be galling to digital agencies. For years we ad people had to put up with their smug declarations that we "just don't get it."

Well, it turns out there's nothing to get. Communication is communication. Some of it is good. Some of it is bad. Some of it comes through a cable, some of it comes through the air. Some of it is persuasive and entertaining. Some of it is dull and ineffectual.

What sensible marketing people have been saying for years turns out to be true.  More than anything else, it's the idea that counts, not the delivery system.

I am not surprised that traditional agencies are now catching, if not surpassing, digital agencies in online advertising innovation. Why? Because traditional agencies still respect and believe in big ideas.

The really big ideas in digital marketing are starting to slip away from digital shops. Could that be the real reason why digital specialists and their apologists have given up on the "big idea?"

Is that why they're declaring the game is all about bunting?

No comments: