I never thought myself an apologist for advertising until I heard Jason Lanier, Partner Architect at Microsoft Research, in a talk he did at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s MIXX event last fall. Lanier said “Advertising is the engine that fuels the web. Like TV, it (the web) wouldn’t be there, if it weren’t for advertising.” I couldn’t agree more. That doesn’t make advertising good or bad. He’s just stating the fact that advertising has made viable entertainment, informational, and educational media out of Radio, TV, and now the Internet. And that’s a phenomenal achievement.
What makes advertising work is hope. Advertising plays a pivotal role in our lives by romanticizing progress and human creativity. It’s built around and perpetuates the idea that things are always improving, getting better, and that the market is growing. According to Jason Lanier, “It’s creative enthusiasm in a 30 second bottle…One of the greatest indicators of hope is innovation and advertising is one of the most prolific publishers of innovation in communication.” Advertising creatively optimizes connections between companies and consumers.
But beyond the intrinsic value of advertising itself, what else could have brought us George and Gracie, Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason, and Jackie Chan, Lucy, Desi, Ed Sullivan, Dick Van Dyke, Sid Ceasar, Star Trek, The Golden Girls, Friends, and a long string of other memorable shows via radio and television that have entertained us for many decades? That works out to hundreds of millions of hours of programming for free. Other than government funding and control, I can’t think of anything else that could have delivered all that. And with the government involved, who knows what all that would have looked like.
But wait! There’s more! Advertising helps businesses large and small
- stay alive and grow.
- expand and launch new products, services and ideas.
- expand their markets and reach more people who would benefit from their products.
Plus advertising helps consumers across the world
- know what’s good about existing products and what new products are available.
- save via incentives from advertisers
- be entertained and engaged by clever, amusing, and thought provoking creative
Advertising has also given me and millions of others a good life. Because we’ve spent our lives in marketing and advertising, we’ve been able to eat, live, and do a few other things, as have our clients. So often a person’s reaction to advertising is negative. Mine has been that way at times over the last 30 years. But I have reason to be proud of advertising as a profession and because of what it achieves everyday.
Let me know what you think of advertising, good or bad. I’m interested in getting your input.