Mad-men Mad Men, the popular ad agency show on AMC, takes place during the golden age of advertising creativity. TV was a fairly new medium, but people had worked with it enough to start doing some pretty creative things using the new nuances of picture and sound. Ad men with names like Bernett, Ogilvy and Bernbach were changing the world. Those times are long gone, but are we entering a new area of unprecedented creativity? I think so.

This new age of creativity is set in motion by two major factors. Again, we have a new medium that has been around long enough for people to start figuring it out – the Internet. And that new medium has spawned all sorts of new channels, including online video, social media, mobile, search and much more. Now add to that an era where the customer is more in control of things than they've ever been. It's no longer good enough to shout your message to a massive crowd. You have to craft your message into something interesting or engaging or useful. That takes more creative thinking – from more departments than just the one labeled "creative."

Creative_advertising To play in this new pool and to engage on a more one-to-one manner requires creativity in all facets of your business plan. Your strategic thinkers need to be creative in their strategies. The media planning and buying needs to be creative. The thinking that goes into how your product interacts with the consumer at all touch points needs to be creative. And, of course, the messaging itself needs to be creative. 

This all requires a lot more thought than before. It's not like there weren't professionals putting a lot of thought into your brand and it's marketing before. But, branding and marketing today requires a lot more innovative thinking. It's why even a smaller firm like us is going to market differently. For instance, the firm that is our Houston office, Yaffe/Deutser, actually does very little traditional advertising and marketing. They do a lot more consulting in areas where they can help companies think differently – in research, company culture analysis, how they deal with employees and their various constituencies, brand management and a whole host of other things that weren't being done by companies like us just 6 or 7 years ago.

For a creative person like myself, it's a great time. In a previous blog post, I already talked about how now is a good time to get back into radio, if you're willing to do something creative. Now, we're looking at all kinds of new possibilities. Instead of just thinking about how the TV ad will drive sales or promote a products USP, we get to think about how to engage people. Our direct marketing division, Yaffe Direct, has found that emails with a video component increase engagement, add over a minute of time spent on our message by the consumer and lift sales by 34%. So, instead of just concentrating on a sale designed to bring in a customer this weekend, we can create more interesting and engaging web videos like this:

RoomPlace Cinco de Mayo Web Video

So, what do you think? Are we really entering the next golden age of creativity? And is it one that crosses over many departmental lines? Who's with me?

Mike McClure Mike McClure, Executive Creative Director and Social Media Guy

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Russ Tate says:

    Love the video Mike! Very nice. There is no question that we are entering the next Golden Age of Creativity. The cautionary part is in your statement, “This all requires a lot more thought than before.” I’m not sure clients understand this yet, or budget for it, making adequate compensation difficult since most agencies are still getting paid for their time, not the value of their ideas.
    It’s a problem many agencies all over the world are struggling with (especially when overall marketing budgets are shrinking, not expanding)and may, at least in the short term, hamper innovation in this new Creative Era.
    Regardless, I think it’s an invigorating time for our business and the industry will eventually figure it out. I for one welcome the challenges all these shiny new opportunities present for us.

  • Dan Roth says:

    The advent of the Internet is infinitely more complicated than the advent of television. While television was at one point a new medium, it only added a visual component to the existing radio format. The audience was still captive in that they had to consume the commercials before or during their shows in order to continue consuming the shows. It was a linear format.
    That simply is not the case for the Internet. The user has full control and can easily avoid promotional material. They can click to anywhere, thus creating a non-linear system that does not require them to consume a promotion/commercial. Commercials on television were considered the necessary evil. Advertising on the Internet is considered a scourge that many users actively try to destroy (pop-up blockers, spam control, etc…). Supporting this view is our low standards regarding a successful digital campaign. If the campaign makes money, it is successful. The problem is that the CPM is so low in the digital arena that this requires a very low conversion rates (those who consume the promotion that ultimate purchase the product). And until we hold ourselves accountable for this, advertising on the Internet will never reach it’s full potential.
    In order to evolve past this, we must forget everything we’ve ever learned about advertising and start from scratch. Most companies and agencies are unwilling to accept this and continue to force traditional techniques on the Internet. This will continue to result in a poor conversion rate and our inability as an industry to capture the true potential of the Internet.

  • Mike McClure says:

    Thanks for the compliment. And yes, I too am excited about the new challenges/opportunities.
    You are right, it’s infinitely more complicated than when TV came about. That’s why I think it’s an age of creativity beyone just the creative freedom the medium that is the net affords us.
    The rest of the concerns you outline are exactly why my point two was that we need to think creatively in every department, not just the creative one. The consumer has the control and we’re not at all used to that. It will require us marketers to learn all new methodologies to stay relevant and to give proper ROI to our clients.
    To both your and Russ’s point, the old business model doesn’t apply. The actual media in a digital world is cheap or free (in the case of social media). But, the amount of time to develop strategies and execute them properly (not to mention added time to come up with truly innovative creative ideas) is going up, way up. The old model was 15% of media revenue, and that dropped to 10-12% over the last decade. In new media, it’s more like 25-30%, because creativity takes time. And, again, the media is cheap.
    But, even in the “old media” we need creativity to get customer to not just skip over our ads. It’s harder, but it’s exciting, too.

  • Shev Goldstein says:

    Ummmm, I’m not so sure. Having worked in the Golden Age I find today’s marketing to be confusing, overwhelming and intimidating – especially as a consumer. In the past it seemed simpler to get an ad message from one of three sources; radio, TV or print. Of course, in the Golden Age one media would, and could, reinforce the other…and, that was OK both creatively and for me as a consumer. An ad message was presented comfortably, not manically. As I recall in the movie “Amadeus” the King said to Mozart that his last creation had “too many notes.” Well, I think we are being bombarded by “too many notes” from the world of marketing. Too many outlets for a clients message. And with everybody trying to get my attention from every conceivable media outlet it’s just easier to shut down and not pay an attention to any of them. “Too many notes.” It seemed easier to understand the advertising message during the Golden Age then it does now. Of course this is just my opinion, and I could be wrong (as Dennis Miller once said).

  • Mike McClure says:

    That’s the beauty of the consumer’s having more control. You have the option to only listen to the notes you choose to.

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