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Advertising & the Future. Friends or Frenemies?

Advertising and the future haven’t always been close friends. In fact, at first glance, it would seem they are mortal enemies. The future seems to just patiently wait as it sharpens its blades and waits for a chance to eviscerate advertising even further. But does it have to be this way? To get a good look at the future, how advertising fits in, and how the two could be friends (at the very least, frenemies), let’s look at the state of ad land in today’s terms.

People don’t like ads. Duh.

Here’s what we know: People don’t like advertising. (Cue collective gasp.) They don’t want to be sold to. (Shocker. I’m pretty sure they never did.) They don’t want to see or hear anything that looks, smells, or sounds like an ad because that’s Mr. or Mrs. Corporation talking, and people don’t want to converse with Mr. or Mrs. Corporation. Here’s another news flash: Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “I think I want to go on a brand journey today.” (Cue the glib smile straight into camera.)

Today’s world makes Minority Report seem tame and antiquated. You know, the movie where ads would pop up based on scanning your eye for your preferences. It’s scary now. Way more scary.  So, if it walks like an ad, shoot it down because ads just don’t work anymore. Random, disjointed websites; disconnected banner ads; and randomly created, disconnected social posts are the plain, dry, toasty staple of the day when it comes to producing “advertising”.

When is an agency not an agency?

Just to confuse things, ad agencies, a handful of years ago, stopped identifying themselves as an Ad Agency. They came up with fanciful monikers, such as an innovation lab or a creative consultancy. They called themselves anything but an ad agency. There were a few brave souls out there who continued to identify boldly, but overall, it was a complete abandonment of what we do as an industry.

Can you imagine doctors doing that? “I’m no longer a doctor, I’m a personal health maintenance provider.”


“I’m no longer a lawyer, I’m a translation specialist for city and state laws.”

It’s no wonder people are confused.

But what does the data say?

To spice things up even further, data has gone from being talked about in hushed corners to having its own heyday in the sun. It promises big returns about what consumers are feeling and thinking and offers up insights as to when and how to tap into them. It even promises that it can look at the tail of the comet of a campaign and predict what will work for future campaigns. An intoxicating promise to be sure, but where does good old-fashioned creative fit into all of this? Better yet, where are the big ideas? You know what I’m talking about. The real magic of any successful ad campaign. The big idea! It’s what encapsulates a multiprong media approach where every execution ladders up to something likeable, memorable, and sticky. It makes ads hard to forget.

Let’s bring back the magic. It’s time.

At Warren Douglas, we think the future and advertising could make up and be long lost friends. It’s long overdue. But it’s going to take something that a lot of agencies overlook currently: creativity. What’s that you say? How could that be? Isn’t that what agencies are supposed to sell? Creativity? Great ideas? Great work? Maybe they used to, but “creative thought” is turning out to be as endangered as the Florida Panther. Here at Warren Douglas, however, we believe that if you’re not using creative to make your email and social campaigns or your web banners, you are literally throwing money out the window.

The real magic happens when people respond.

Creative is the key to unlocking someone’s attention span. It always has been. It’s a tried-and-true principle because, simply stated, it works. And it isn’t a corporate muckety-muck’s voice. It’s just real talk. Relevant human insights. Imagine that. Talking to humans as if they were…humans. The best agencies have proven that great advertising, based on simple human truths, just works. After all, we have been in the empathy business long before empathy in business was even a thing.

Sure, media placement makes a difference. So does data. As well as repetition. But adding great creative based on human truths to your campaign is equivalent to strapping a jet engine to your 2015 Volvo and hitting the ignition right as you see an open lane. A solid creative strategy provides a compelling reason for people to engage, and it has a profound, long-lasting effect on your audience as well as your brand. In other words, your brand becomes sticky. In a good way. It always was and still is the reason good ideas stay with you, bad ideas don’t, and no ideas are a vacuum of thin air. So, what about big ideas?

Big ideas. The ultimate efficiency machine.

Big ideas break through. They are memorable. They provide traction with consumers that brands look for. We talk a lot as an industry about efficiencies and data-driven decision making, but the truth is, as messy as the creative process can be, when the big idea is right, there is nothing more efficient or potent.

For example, check out this new spot for MGM Resorts.

Deceptively simple, it captures your interest with a playfulness and wholesomeness that runs counter to how most people talk about Vegas today. And it works.

Or maybe consider the various Geico campaigns that have played over the years. Some are admittedly not as strong as others but overall, wow! What a catalog of strong work that is so effective. And they use different campaigns to reach different audiences. Incredible.

Combine the power of that creativity with all the other previously mentioned disciplines and you’ve got advertising napalm, a.k.a. “the power of a big idea”. There is no place these big ideas can’t go. It doesn’t have to be a print ad. Print may be dead. It’s not. Powerful, big ideas can live anywhere. In fact, a big idea could rejuvenate a waning social presence or raise an email campaign’s awareness to engagement levels you never thought were possible.

Say something interesting.

This simple, single truth remains as pure as ever: If you want people interested in what you have to say, say something interesting. Check out some of our latest work, for example, for Briannas.

By leveraging the brand’s label based on the consumer’s recall of its iconic art, we literally brought the brand to life. We not only communicated the brand’s unique selling proposition of fresh quality ingredients but also echoed their attention to detail due to the small batch process they use to create the dressing. This achieved our ultimate goal of activating the brand in a memorable way and driving awareness. We don’t just execute the same-old, same-old. Instead, we choose to use visually interesting, compelling messaging and storytelling to draw people in. Apparently, the work worked. And worked well. Our clients have never been happier, and more are rolling in as we speak.

To kick off your own personal brand campaign of big ideas that generate engagement, reach out to us. We can help. To see more of what we’re up to creatively, check back here often!

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