Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Will 2009 be the year creativity makes a comeback?

A recent piece by Laura Petrecca in USA Today has brought up an interesting point. With predictions that 2009 will see an even bigger dercline in media spending - the conventional way to measure advertising industry activity - some advertising can rise above the bad times. Regarding 2008 advertising, there is much in her story that I don't agree with - Walmart's advertising - forget it. Free Credit and the singing waiter guy? Someone please teach him how to play better fake guitar.

The story points out that even during the Great Depression, advertisers advertised, and consumers consumed. It wasn't a post-apocalyptic, nuclear winter-like environment.  Actually some of the most creative advertising of that day was developed during those dark days. Advertisers had to develop new ideas for doing more with less, just like the consumers did. They had to come up with new ways to make their advertising work harder and be more memorable, to resonate with the consumer. Isn't that what good advertising should always do, even in a strong economy?

Does a $3 million Super Bowl spot make sense in such a down economy?

It's that time of year again - the advertising trades and their pundits are gabbing about the Super Bowl - the big one, in terms of audience and cost-per-30 sec spot.

So, the obvious question is - at $3 million per spot, does it seem crazy for corporate America to go there - with the economy in the dumper? 

A Super Bowl ad is always a biggy- reach the biggest audience. Make a splash. Get the buzz going around the water coolers. Great. Even in a bad economy, and some might say especially in a bad economy, a Super Bowl ad could work well. Especially one that is carefully developed, with sensitivity, sophistication and funny in a light way, without the mean-spiritedness that permeates some of today's advertising.

It's a big showcase for big ideas.

On the other hand, it's not surprising to see some big name advertisers, like FedEx and GM, backing away from the big game. A Super Bowl ad might send the wrong message to employees, customers and stakeholders. And it could, of course, create negative backlash if the company's just made a bunch of layoffs. I have to admit that I would feel pretty bad if my employer was spending that kind of money after giving me and a few hundred of my cohorts the boot.

If more advertisers stay away, will the cost go down? If more of the big guys stay out of the game, will some new up-and-comers emerge and win Rookie of the Year honors?

Stay tuned!