Our agency is getting big. That’s something to be happy about. But it’s something to worry about, too, and I don’t mind telling you I’m damned worried. I’m worried that we’re going to fall into the trap of bigness, that we’re going to worship techniques instead of substance, that we’re going to follow history instead of making it, that we’re going to be drowned by superficialities instead of buoyed up by solid fundamentals. I’m worried lest hardening of the creative arteries begin to set in.
There are a lot of great technicians in advertising. And unfortunately they talk the best game. They know all the rules. They can tell you that people in an ad will get you greater readership. They can tell you that a sentence should be this sort or that long. They can tell you that body copy should be broken up for easier reading. They can give you fact after fact after fact. They are the scientists of advertising. But there’s one little rub. Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.
It’s that creative spark that I’m so jealous of for our agency and that I am so desperately... Read more
How Science Started to Dominate Advertising
In 1926, President Calvin Coolidge pronounced a benediction on the business of advertising:
"Advertising ministers to the spiritual side of trade. It is a great power that has been intrusted to your keeping which charges you with the high responsibility of inspiring and ennobling the commercial world. It is all part of the greater work of regeneration and redemption of mankind."
Between 1926 and today, we proceeded dealing with advertising as if it was more science than art. Reach and frequency were introduced, new metrics like GRP and TRP started to dominate the language of the business and now we measure our reach in terms of impressions. Coolidge's idea of inspiration and spiritual redemption through advertising was replaced by spreadsheets, perspiration and a dominance of left-brain thinking.
Is Advertising Art Or Science?
If advertising is a matter of data and science, why do we remember an Apple commercial from 1984 that ran once? And why do I get so annoyed when I see the same, mediocre ad over and over again, behaviorally targeting the hell out of me and perfectly aligned with reach and frequency formulas? I would argue, there's an advertising world outside of science. It's called creative... Read more