Tuesday, 1 September 2009


With the formidable rise of social media and the opportunities for smaller online campaigns targeted at specific groups of consumers what will happen to the ‘big idea’ campaigns? Of course we still have great some great, big-production TV ads out there but years into the future - when technology has progressed to a degree where billboards can recognize your own face, mobile phones know exactly what shop you are in, customer service is done on Twitter and there is no such thing as public cinemas - will we still have those magical, colorful, atmospheric, ‘big-idea’ ads? The ads that we (God forbid) actually like.

Advertising on the Internet is still mostly boring but it’s so much cheaper for companies and they are realising this; Volkswagen, for example chose to launch the latest version of its Golf GTi without using television or print advertising, relying almost entirely on free "buzz" online.

Despite the huge buzz about online/social media, television advertising is still proven to be more effective than other mediums, YouGov and the Edinburgh International Television Festival found in a survey they conducted. Most consumers will see a brand or product on the TV and then afterwards use the Internet to research it. Hence the Internet needs to provide more functional and accessible information spaces such as brand homepages and online eStores instead of mediocre banner ads that only achieve a low ‘click-through’ rate.

The most viewed ads on the Internet are still those that take the form of TV ads or are TV ads in the first place. 2007’s Cadbury Gorilla sensation was one of those ‘big idea’ ads that had a huge viral crossover success when 4million people watched it on YouTube. Millions have watched Sony’s Bravia and Dove’s Evolution ads and there are many other examples. These ads are examples of recent big ideas that are more than ad’s, they have become cultural moments. They are autonomous in their own right, for their humour, cinematography or ability to address a universal issue.

The Internet is powerful because it can distribute and ‘keep alive’ the buzz that surrounds a great ad, but the power is still in the ‘initial idea.’ Facebook may allow us to target people but great ideas will transform these people (and the world they live in).

So will advertising in the future be much smaller (albeit targeted), less exciting pop-up commercials and Facebook chats between a company representative and a consumer? That would make being a consumer akin to being a ‘friend’ and there is nothing wrong with that, its just that Facebook’s quest for transparency, and the internet powers that be sometimes have the consequence of vilifying traditional above the line advertising, and I don’t think it deserves the beating.

Or will we see advertisers go back to the ‘big idea’ after a period of boredom and bafflement with smaller, fragmented social-media strategies that only target a specific group – even if it is done well?

Two articles worth reading in regards to this are:



Edward Campbell


Drew Byrne said...

Two “quick” ideas pop into my mind after flicking quickly through this “micro-essay”: that a customer is not a friend but is a customer, and…after a while…that if you fail to predict the future...naturally enough, it occurs not without you, but without your input…and I bet you’ve heard that before.

Anonymous said...

Is the big idea/expensive tv commercial dead? Let's see: Way too many ads, way too many options other than watching tv, way too many options IF and when you sit to watch tv, kids younger than 18 not watching tv AT ALL, hmm....not looking good.

But I think this can be the greatest thing that can happen to advertising. It will force agencies to remember that they're in the business of connecting brands with consumers and not in the business of "making ads".