Over the 20+ years I’ve known him, I’ve always thought Rishad Tobaccowala (now with Publicis Groupe) was a national treasure. He has that rare gift of being able to intellectually surround an issue and then quickly carve it down to its most essential point. So it was with particular interest that I read his prediction that advertising would decline 30% over the next five years.
He’s right, of course.
The principle reason he cites for this decline is the flight to ad free environments. “We don’t value (consumers’) time,” he explains, going on to quote the valuation as “less than minimum wage.” I agree, but for a somewhat more elaborate set of reasons.
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I think too much of the “advertising industry” is just that: an industry devoted to advertising… to generating more and more and more of it; to giving each other awards for it; to managing it’s migration into every nook and cranny of life. If we’re honest we’ll admit that the “advertising industry” has become a self-referential deep state affair, hell-bent on its own survival.
We’ll also admit that many of us have lost sight of the original story-line, the real mission: that the purpose of our work is not to win the next agency bake-off or secure a bigger share of “the budget.” We’re supposed to be devoted to helping marketers sell products, grow their businesses, build factories and employ workers. Small wonder that marketers have come to see advertising not as a source of growth but as a cost-center.
To paraphrase noted Vermonter and 30th president Calvin Coolidge, “the business of advertising is business.” Or at least it should be.
Not to sound like too much of a relic, but when I started out at a small ad agency at age 22, part of my training program was delivering beer kegs, shadowing bank tellers and working in a shipping warehouse full of car polish. It may seem quaint now, but we understood on a visceral level the business our clients were in. And by extension the business we were in.
We’ve lost a little something since then. I hope we get some of it back.