Is Tech Killing Off Creatives?

Digital media–sometimes referred to as “new media”–have been taking ever larger pieces of marketers’ media placement budgets. And digital effects have been creating big impacts on audiences and awards juries. Now comes an Ad Age editorial by Mark Wnek claiming that highly paid and seasoned creatives are being jettisoned by agencies as they rush to recruit young techies to create ever more audacious marcom content.


Wnek’s premise is that there is no substitute for creativity, and that creativity is much more than the sum of any digital tech effects. He worries that true creativity is on the wane. This is worrisome from multiple perspectives, not the least of which is what happens in a world where Philip Kotler’s Marketing 4.0 five As starts to dominate marketers’ conversations and social media eventually replace television as the number 1 ad budget medium?

This gives us all something to think about. I’d appreciate your comments.

“Like Us on Facebook” may be a mistake…

According to recent research cited in a Wall Street Journal article ( being assertive with your advertising may be counter-productive. The Journal notes, “That’s because consumers don’t like being told what to do, especially by brands they love, says Yael Zemack-Rugar, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Central Florida and one of three authors of a paper about assertive ads forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.”

The hard sell is a turn-off; soft sell works, according to what the research seems to be telling us. Even a phrase as seemingly innocuous as “Like us on Facebook” could be holding people back from doing what you would like them to do!

Something to think about.

Can Commercials Change Minds on Social Issues?

I recently finished reading social psychologist Albert Bandura’s new book, Moral Disengagement, in which he presents what amounts to an extensive literature survey on how social interactions can influence personal behaviors. Among other things, he presents studies of how using radio and television serial programs scripted to present themes like women’s empowerment and using communication rather than violence to resolve disputes have worked in various countries around the world.

There is no question we are all influenced by what we see and hear others do. And as Stanford researchers Reeves and Nass have shown us in The Media Equation, what we see on TV is just as real to us as interaction with a real person, one-on-one.

So, if serial dramas (soap operas, if you will) can bring about change, what about the micro-dramas of commercials and advertising?

Here is a link to a pretty long spot for Heineken that is very thought-provoking and, at least in my view, very needed right now. Take a look at this piece from the Ladders job search site and see if you agree.

eSports on the Rise and Gamers are Altruistic

Great article in the current Ad Age about the incredible growth of eSports. The article notes that one young man dropped out of school to play games like Call of Duty full time and claimed he would be making more money than his parents. In fact, his earnings came to over $200,000 in prize money.

Advertisers are getting on board and Ad Age points out they need to be in it for the long haul or gamers and their fans may punish them economically. Turns out that gamers seem to be a pretty altruistic bunch. What’s up with that?

Given all the negative attention about violent video games and their supposed effects on aggression and violence, what accounts for this altruism? Seems like a very ripe area for some empirical research to me!


Is the End Near for Today’s Hollywood?

An excellent article that appeared recently in Vanity Fair makes a very good case that Hollywood is already as dead as the pre-Internet music business. It just doesn’t know it yet, and–what’s worse–is in denial, just like all those former music biz moguls.

I for one have long felt that stars are way overpaid (along with pro sports figures), but the picture (pardon the pun) may be even darker than that.

Read this and please feel free to comment.


Ah, Good Old Emotion…

So here’s an article from Adweek about a commercial (which you can view on their site) that aired during the Oscars for Revlon’s new “Love Project” public service campaign. It will be interesting to see how this rolls out. I would argue this is a very strong opening statement and somewhat unexpected from Revlon, which, let’s face it, is pretty much “your grandmother’s makeup” because of its longevity in the marketplace. Perhaps this will make the brand relevant again.

We know that in the fragrance biz Revlon has about .5% market share, compared to market leaders L’Oreal (20%) and Estee Lauder (7%). (source: Forbes, 12-28-2015)

One reason I love this spot is that it reminds me of Dave Brubeck’s album, “Jazz; Red Hot and Cool,” (recorded live in 1954 and 1955) with an album cover featuring Dave at the piano and a very attractive woman in a sensual, bright red dress and matching bright red lipstick. The lipstick, as the liner notes revealed, was Revlon’s new shade, “Jazz, Red Hot and Cool.” It’s one of the earliest examples of product placement I know of. Lots of companies in those days were TV show sponsors (think Kraft Theater, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Death Valley Days [20 Mule Team Borax sole sponsor]). But Revlon staked out a whole new claim with a record album tie-in.


And here’s that album cover.

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New Media Creating New Brains?

According to an article in Time magazine that cites recent research at Stanford, McGill, and USC, people who use their smart phones, tablets, and other devices to constantly surf the ‘net and engage in social media may be re-making their brain’s hard wiring…and not in a good way.


According to article author Markham Heid, one’s anterior cingulate cortex, where reflective thought takes place, becomes atrophied and loses functionality. The brain becomes overloaded with constant over-stimulation of “always on” connectedness and starts losing the ability to take a break and let “aha!” moments rise through the soup of data and impressions absorbed both consciously and unconsciously.

Earlier research about the harmful effects of multi-tasking is reinforced by this newer work.

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