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New York’s seventh annual Advertising Week wrapped on Friday, and those who missed it need not look further than the program for the conference’s main message and what should be the industry’s credo for the future. This year’s slogan “Get out of your head” might as well have been “Out of your mind and online.” After all, that’s where the action is, and the impressive number of discussions focused on social media drove that point home. As we discussed last week, Facebook is The Social Network for some 500 million users and smart brands are taking advantage. But Facebook isn’t the only game in town. An information-packed article aptly named “What Do We Want? Media! When Do We Want It? Now!” in the current edition of Advertising Age, reports that Twitter now boasts an estimated 100 million users, and the social networking site for working professionals, LinkedIn, has tripled in size in over the past two years. There are approximately 75 million users on the network, up from 50 million in October 2009. Moreover, the article reports that “in the past year and a half, we’ve added two more hours per week to our at-home TV diet (via Deloitte), sent and received half a trillion more text messages (CTIA) and spent 1.3 more hours per week online (Forrester Research).” These numbers not only signal change, but also opportunity. While Mad Men’s Don Draper would be lost in this sea of technological possibility, modern day Mad Men and Women are being celebrated for embracing it.
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud here, but it seems like the secret to successful advertising is in adaptation. A catchy jingle is no longer enough to win the hearts of consumers, today’s advertisers need to get online, get social, and meet consumers on their terms. As always, cleverness and creativity are key.
According to research from NewMediaMetrics, nine out of the top 10 most engaging media outlets — that is, the media outlets that draw the most involvement — are based online. Google’s search engine, AOL, YouTube and Facebook top the list, respectively, with retailers such as Amazon.com, eBay and iTunes also making the list. Television network ABC — the only traditional outlet in the top 10 — is ranked No. 9. The lesson to be learned here by advertisers and marketers is clear: advertising is no longer simply about the best 30-second spot or print ads for Ladies Home Journal. While Nielsen reports that 116 million American households have at least one television (and 55 percent of those households own three or more televisions), Pew Research Center says that 78 percent of Americans go online daily. Yesterday’s Marlboro Man is today’s Jason Schwartzman, who made Internet waves last week with his quirky online spot for The New Yorker application for iPad. Of course, we’ve come to expect attention-grabbing and trendy ads from Apple, but what about Old Spice? The men’s body care maker has done an excellent job of adapting to the new marketplace. Yes, it still runs traditional commercials (which are not only oh-so-charming, but also target both men and women), but the brand has also integrated the Big Three of Social Media — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — into their campaign. There’s also a blog. In August, we saw Unilever strike a new kind of deal with AMC, home to the aforementioned Mad Men. Believed to be the first deal of its kind, the season-long marketing agreement included six Mad Men-style commercials for different Unilever products to air on the network, as well as on YouTube and other Web sites — a cool concept with great results. This is an excellent morphing of a traditional medium; when print ads and commercials — especially commercials — can be shared via so many social networks and embedded in blogs, they need to be fun, edgy and not just tied to program content, but have a touch on the consumer pulse. It’s no wonder that clients have hired marketing agencies such as Vertical Marketing Network to create, integrate and manage social media content for their brands.
Advertising reflects us and it shapes us. Really smart advertising sticks with us for our lifetimes. Catchy jingles will always have their place (who among us can hum a nostalgic “ho-ho-ho” a la the Jolly Green Giant, or quote McDonald’s ads from the late-80s verbatim?), but today’s ads need to think outside the box — literally. Like the brands above (and to quote a popular ad campaign of yesteryear), we’ve come a long way, baby! And I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens next.