The global TV advertising sector will be worth £5.38bn next year, according to Statista, across broadcast and video on demand alone. The industry continues to grow globally, and is a powerful force on a number of levels, not least of which is in maintaining a largely free internet and in helping companies expand and employ as they see positive results from business growth. Advertising can perform many positives, however in recent years, off the back of a number of major controversies, some have lost their pride and faith in the industry.
During The Drum’s Advertising Awards judging this year, the jury discussed the problem, focusing on the question as to whether the word ‘advertising’ has been sullied and those working in the sector were less than proud to admit it is the industry in which they make their living.
One of the judges, Matt Fitch, creative director at Adam&EveDDB, offered his view that part of the issue from a public perspective is that advertising is an industry that is made up of “big brands, big rich people who are lying to get more money,” and while he admitted that was true “at it’s worst,” he added his belief that advertising is also able to change culture and perceptions and is capable of doing a lot of good, too.
He highlighted a campaign his agency had been involved with, Project 84, which focused on the issues around male suicide and, as a result, helped with the appointment of Britain’s first Suicide Minister to tackle the previously taboo issue.
“You can see how the conversation began with a piece of advertising and went way beyond it,” he added as an example of the impact the advertising industry can make. “Public perception depends on the work.”
Offering a view on how the industry could improve its public perception, Facebook’s global creative strategist and specialist in augmented reality, Elizabeth Valleau, another of the jury, told The Drum that ad industry leaders need to listen more to people and think of people “in different ways” rather than as statistics.
She continued: “Classic advertising for decades now has been a one-way conversation; now people are complicit, they are listening, and they are driving. The more we listen, the better our creativity is going to be because [consumers] are finally in control.”
Chairing the judging panel was Publicis Groupe chief creative officer Nick Law, who talked about the changes that advertising has faced, pointed out how, because it reaches audiences using different channels in the modern age, there's a need to “create grammar” for those new channels. He noted that each format had to be considered on its own merits rather than as one idea being expected to translate as multi-format.
“It’s not about the big idea. It’s about taking it from here [he pointed to his head] and putting it wherever,” he stated.
Helen Bazuaye, global editor-in-chief of August Media, said she believes that the quality of work in advertising is important to improving the reputation of the industry. She added that a collaborative creative approach always improves quality, versus bolting on ideas without audience insights, which could be harmful.
“It is about understanding what the people you are trying to market to want, where they're at, and what excites them — and it’s not just about what you can do with Snapchat and re-creating things. Stop re-creating,” she asserted.
Meanwhile, Talenthouse cofounder Maya Bogle defended the word ‘advertising’ from have a ‘dirty’ label, but admitted she saw why the industry had been criticised for its work.
“Consumers now are more like producers in their own right, they are rejecting conventional forms of advertising, and they don’t want to have their newsfeed interrupted as traditional broadcasting has done in the past. There’s a lot of consumer resentment against advertising,” she continued, admitting that this resentment had perhaps made some professionals less keen to talk about their work in advertising.
Law also came to the defense of the industry, highlighting the value exchange where audiences received entertainment and content for free for receiving commercial messaging, however now they are given even more than just TV or radio.
“If you think about what has happened with digital media, all the things that we take for granted, if you think of search or videos or connecting with our friends all around the world,” he explained, "that’s all paid for by advertising, which is a good exchange."
The Drum Advertising Awards and The Drum Social Purpose Awards will take place in London on 29 November at The Postal Museum in London. Check out the nominations, including campaigns for Microsoft, Porsche and Sony.