It’s not a Don Draper world anymore. Gone are the days of 10 channels on your television, a handful of magazines and newspapers, and ad campaigns that are developed and carried out over the course of months.
In the fast pace of the 21st century, your brand is up against hundreds of thousands of other brands, each fighting for a piece of the now gigantic advertising pie covering hundreds of television channels, magazines, and millions of web pages. The campaign lifecycle is incredibly short and depends more on customer reviews than brand mascots; optimized web pages than 30-second TV spots; viral videos than Nielson ratings. The landscape is vastly different.
It’s been interesting to watch the industry adapt to these changes and find new ways to advertise their clients’ products. Also interesting has been society’s reaction to the generation of marketing. Some accept these changes as the next step in advertising, and some have a harder time accepting the new digital world.
Welcome to non-interrupted programming
Tivo. The DVR. The Hopper. Aside from live sporting events, when was the last time you watched a live commercial? As DVRs became ubiquitous, conversations that started with, “Have you seen that hilarious commercial where the cat sneezes and loses all its fur?!” dwindled away. The marketing industry dealt with this by creating viral videos (I’ll touch on this next) and by incorporating commercials into your regularly scheduled programming that go beyond mere product placement (think Reese’s Pieces in “E.T.” and Ray Ban in “Top Gun”).
I remember the first time I realized I was watching a commercial within a TV show. It was Fox’s “Bones,” one of my favorites, and Dr. Brennan and her partner Booth were driving to a crime scene. We, the viewers, were learning an awful lot about the Toyota Prius Brennan was driving. And we were given some great shots of both the interior (check out that reverse back up camera!) and the exterior (wow, so shiny! Is that…periwinkle?).
It was brilliant. I had spent the past five years in print marketing trying to grab and keep the attention of my firm’s audience. That successful little mini-commercial was what I had been looking for in print. If TV could find a way to get around the rise of the DVR, print media could find a way to get around the rise of the Internet.
Not everyone feels this way. My boyfriend was outraged to find himself watching a commercial during his TV show. He couldn’t fast forward or grab a drink from the ’fridge, because woven within Prius ad copy was dialogue pertinent to the show. He felt trapped, where I felt exhilarated. I tried to explain how I was feeling: “Advertising cannot be wiped out. Everything must be marketed. If everyone is fast-forwarding through every commercial, brands are going to stop buying the 30-second spots. With no advertising money, show producers cannot afford to make their shows. No commercials, no “Bones.” This isn’t ruined TV. This is the beginning of non-interrupted programming.” He grumbled a bit but realized I had a point: he’d rather watch 45 seconds of dialogue that included some facts about a car than have no show at all.
The ad your ad could smell like!
Digital PR is the in-show commercial of print media. The news cycle in print has gone from being measured in days, weeks and months to being measured in seconds, and dependent more than ever on word of mouth. The glossy print ads published once a month in magazines after only weeks of creative development and focus groups are now the interactive ads and viral videos posted on sites with no printed media at all. The Internet has made anyone with a connection a possible platform for advertising, and the industry, as with TV, has adapted well.
Of course you remember this. It may be the greatest example of a brand adapting to the new world of advertising; it is still considered the fastest growing online viral video campaign ever.
When it was launched on July 14, 2010, it took only 24 hours to hit 6.7 million views; after 36 hours it had a shocking 23 million views. In addition, Old Spice’s agency had the video’s star, Isaiah Mustafa, reply to online comments and questions from social media and networking websites (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc.) The campaign ran for only three days, and over two years later it remains a pop culture touchstone and Old Spice is still a well-known brand.
This is what digital PR is all about: content and digital advertising that is quick, unique and infinitely shareable.
A brave new advertising world
Social sharing and customer reviews (on sites like Yelp! and Amazon) are the new measurement of success in marketing and PR. Essentially, this is the bottom line in the paradigm shift of brand success: Your consumers are an extension of your marketing department. The ad execs at Old Spice did an amazing job with the “Look at your man” video, but it was the general public who made the video what it is: one of the greatest campaigns of all time.
This new direction in marketing and advertising has opened opportunities for smaller brands with less capital to reach wider audiences. Dollar Shave Club is a great example of a small start-up that catapulted into the consciousness of the consumer without the budget of a big brand. The video, which cost $4,500 to produce, gained over 4 million views in just under a week.
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce this is not. Excellent marketing in the ADD world of 2012? Yes. And it’s only going to get better—and faster paced. You’re vying for a moment of attention from an audience with nearly infinite options. Be creative, be funny, be serious about social integration, and be patient with ad copy mixed into the dialogue of your favorite show. This is the new world of advertising, and it’s a different kind of creative. Hold on for a great ride.