Andrew Curry writes: I have been meaning to post this for a while, but better late than never. The Wire, which is the in-house magazine of WPP, our parent company, had a feature in its last issue on how advertising would change over the next ten years. 16 contributors, 150 words each, you know the kind of thing. The editor warned us off social media as being too obvious, and I stayed away from data analytics because others in the group know far more about that than I do.

Sadly, the whole piece is behind a firewall, unless you happen to work for a WPP company, although it would seem like a good opportunity to showcase thinking within the group. But here’s my contribution:

Advertising is being squeezed from two sides. The generation of millennials now cresting into adulthood, brought up with screens surrounding them, can de-construct an advertisement quicker than you can say “Roland Barthes“. There’s no trick you can play without them noticing it, storing it, and tagging it for the next time. Governments meanwhile, squeezed for budgets, have noticed that the public purse tends to pick up quite a lot of the costs of private consumption, and are increasingly willing to regulate advertising in an increasing range of categories, darkening markets or persuading companies to darken their markets themselves. Sao Paolo passed its ‘clean city’ legislation which banned outdoor advertising four years ago, and it has huge support from its citizens. Other places have followed suit, if on a smaller scale, an early sign that Adbusters’ Mental Environment Movement is just starting to gain traction. Advertisers will be able to say less and less about less and less. End of message.

The picture of Sao Paulo is from the blog Out of Home Media, and is used with thanks.

3 thoughts on “A future of advertising

  1. The rising generation is a mystery when it comes to advertising. In the halcyon days advertising was part of mainstream pop culture, a shared reference point – The Milky Bar Kid, Peugeot 405 fields on fire, etc. Now the media are fragmented and nobody has to watch or see any ad they don’t want to.

    My three kids (16, 15 and 12) watch commercial channels and use the Internet a lot, but virtually never refer to advertising. They seem to get their product cues from friends and looking things up online.

    Advertising as over-35s think of it – set pieces, shoot, campaigns etc – is going to become much less relevant, and not only with the rising generation. This will force advertisers and practitioners to go back to first principles, namely what is the ultimate purpose of advertising?

    The answer could fill several books but in a nutshell, I would say it’s about creating favourable disposition towards the brand/product in the minds of potential buyers and influencers. The rest – awareness, familiarity, consideration etc. – are consequences.

    “Classic” advertising will be increasingly ineffective in creating that favourable disposition – especially with the regulatory and environmental concerns you highlight. Brands and corporations will have to find creative ways to become part of the structure of popular/civil culture.

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