Our Swedish advertising newspaper Resumé are running a documentary about the Swedish advertising world. In the first episode they visited first the Swedish Consumers Association (advertising skeptics) and then the Advertising Association of Sweden (pro advertising). They also visited some Swedish politicians.
What was noteworthy was the prevailing view of advertising as something that people don’t want, and something that is subject to control. I’m not so sure either of those views are true.
There are three functions in play here:
1. People are increasingly free to choose wether or not they want to view a certain piece of information. This is at least true for digital media (yes, that includes “television”). This means that we as advertisers HAVE to produce content that people want. Actually, we’re not in advertising anymore, but in showbusiness and service industry.
2. Moreover this digital media is not a controllable media. Unless we want to be like China and censor platforms like You Tube, but even so, there are always technological ways around that kind of censorship. Stuff that is out there is out there. How are we going to put laws on that? How are we going to know who produced what and who published it? Very difficult situation for those seeking to restrain advertising by law.
3. Tailoring. For digital media there is no reason anyone should be presented with content that they’re not interested in to some degree. Google knows enough about us to tailor our experience and lay before us content that is likely to interest us. And the big winner in that equation is you. With this much content being produced all the time, choosing manually between everything would engulf your life a hundred times over. We need editors around us to help us choose content. And I think advertising and non-advertising content will be on a continous scale. Not one or the other.
As for media where you CAN control messages and CAN force messages onto people, I think they will have to change as well. Print and outdoor are two examples. I’m not exactly sure how, but one safe bet is that they will integrate with digital to a greater extent and that they will be used a lot for sparking and building credibility.
Thus, as far as the two organizations being interviewed on Resumé TV, they are discussing the wrong thing when they’re talking about legislation and it’s effects. Tougher legislation on controllable media would move advertisers to non-controllable media. It is also probably utterly ineffective anyway. I think positive communication (like Fair Trade or KRAV) is far better than negative warnings (like on Tobacco). It’s just not sexy anymore to drive a gas guzzling SUV. And not being sexy is a potent detterent. Why is the SUV not sexy anymore? Not because of warning signs anyway.
When it came to the interview with the politician that was just comedy. This politician actually talked about advertising carrying elements of brain washing. Hello? Brain washing me into what? Buying chocolate? Isn’t it more brainwashing to simplify an entire political party into youth camps (for example SSU summer camp) where kids from an early age are indoctrinated into wearing a certain colored team jersey for the rest of their life, before being even remotely schooled in economics? Or how about simple outdoor ads where massively difficult macro economical questions are bolied down to a catchy message, urging you to vote for a certain team? I didn’t say brain washing, but you did!
So – to lighten things up a little after this, here is some good old Funtwo (44,203,216 views on You Tube).
This blog is written by Walter Naeslund and has been around since 2007. The blog is about the journey of starting an advertising agency and a sneak peek behind the scenes of what goes on at the Honesty HQ in SoFo, Södermalm. It is also a blog about communication & technology. The blog has gathered almost a thousand posts over the years with several longer and shorter breaks. Welcome and enjoy.