Editorial: Let’s get on with it

If the souring of marketers' feelings towards advertising over the past several years could be likened to the breakup of any other relationship, it would probably be fair to say that the early stages of anger and denial are finally over.Ad...

If the souring of marketers’ feelings towards advertising over the past several years could be likened to the breakup of any other relationship, it would probably be fair to say that the early stages of anger and denial are finally over.

Ad agencies, which have been especially guilty of prolonging the denial, seem to have accepted that things have changed, and that it is time to get on with the rest of their lives. And the client community seems to be feeling the same way, judging from scattered u.s. reports of planned increases in ad spending across all media and a similar, though more hesitant, comeback evident in Canada.

Yet in this ever-fragmenting, techno-bewildering marketing universe, ‘getting on with it’ is much easier said than done. It is not so clear, these days, which is the right way to turn. A predictable, transitional period of wariness and indecision, and, let’s hope, a brief one, appears to be taking hold.

David Harrison, a founding partner and president of the media planning and buying company Harrison Young Pesonen & Newell, puts it this way in an opinion piece beginning on page one:

‘There is a palpable, free-floating anxiety in the marketing air. We are becoming paralyzed by the notion that just because we might someday live in, and even understand, the 500-channel, cd-romed, fibre-optic-ed world, so much discussed in recent months, continuing to use the ever-evolving mass media is a fool’s game and should be used as a last resort.’

And yet, as Harrison points out, ‘when a clever, intrusive advertising campaign hits, it really is remarkable how quickly the audience gets it.’

The overnight success of Molson Breweries’ Red Dog beer entry, dependent almost entirely on a creative concept, communicated through an aggressive multimedia advertising campaign and a strong merchandising support program, is all the evidence Harrison needs to support his central point: advertising still works.

There are many reasons why clients have lost their faith, and about the only thing that seems certain at the moment is that they are not going to come charging back into advertising’s eagerly opened arms just because they were there before.

Understandably, clients are going to need to be convinced all over again.

Harrison again:

‘All of us in the media advertising complex should stand up and enthusiastically endorse the real thing. You know, the kind of advertising that engages people, with lines they can embrace and with music they just might whistle.’

Harrison exhorts all of those connected to, and dependent upon, advertising to rally to the cause. And it probably will require a concerted effort on the part of all stakeholders, including agencies, media and the many suppliers of related services.

But, clearly, someone needs to take the lead.

Maybe, just maybe, enough people of influence in the agency community will soon figure this out.