October 03, 2011

Postcoherent Advertising

Have you been noticing what I've been noticing?

Is the ad business cultivating a movement toward "postcoherence?"

Have you been seeing a type of advertising that is logical to the people who create it, but is bewildering and incoherent to the people who are supposed to respond to it?

This type of advertising seems to be popping up in all media, but most evidently on TV and on line. Watching TV recently, it occurred to me that about 25% of the spots I saw had me confused. I either couldn't figure out what the hell they were trying to sell me or why.

I decided to do a little research. I wanted to understand if I just happened to be watching shows that attracted bad advertisers, or if this was really a trend. So I went on line and reviewed the Super Bowl spots from this past year to see if "postcoherence" was a trend among big-time, presumably sophisticated advertisers.

If anything, it was stronger among these advertisers. There were quite a number of spots that were either fully or partially unintelligible

The primary characteristics of postcoherent advertising is that it assumes...
  • we already know what the product is 
  • or what it's for
  • or how it works 
  • or why it's better
  • or why we need it
It doesn't bother with the basic principles of communication. Instead, it is designed to enhance the status of the creators by associating them with a zeitgeist hipper and more intellectually flattering than mere advertising.

And, in the meantime, it leaves the observer baffled.

In an upcoming post we'll examine the origins of the movement toward "postcoherence." Meantime, here are a few examples I found from the Super Bowl.

If you've come across some good examples of postcoherent ads, please send me links and I'll post them.

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