Why does advertising suck?
03/01/2013 1 Comment
Sure, there are parts of it that are romantic – creating an amazing ad campaign that resonates with people on a human level (see TED’s Ads Worth Spreading). Some of those ads are “stories” that truly enrich the audience’s world view – they’re not directly about products or services necessarily, but the cross-roads between the audience’s lives and a product/service, perhaps.
But for the most part, advertising involves hawking things at people in the hopes that they’ll buy. Buying and selling fuels our economy – Half the world is selling, half the world is buying (unless we’re talking about food, and then apparently half is just thrown away).
As everyone knows, the psychology of the consumer is the real engine behind a capitalist society: The psychology of the stock markets determines whether a stock goes up or down, not the fundamentals of the company behind the stock; The psychology of the househunter determines whether she will pay more or less than the asking price from the seller, not really the true underlying value of the wood, metal and sheetrock composing the house. What the banks and policymakers are constantly searching for is “irrational exuberance”
So consumer advertising is aimed at the psychology of the consumer – creating desires & plying aspirations, playing on fears of exclusion or loss, breeding competitiveness… Advertising is illusion – “aspire to this lifestyle, and buy this product to then be included in this lifestyle group.” The link immediately above highlights that Lehman Brothers was “responsible” in the shift from functional advertising (promoting features & solutions) to desire-based advertising (think of any ad where you don’t see features of the product, but see some aspect of lifestyle however remotely associated with the brand/product). We’ve now shifted into entertainment advertising – advertainment – where the goal is first “Attention Share” of their audience, and then a lifestyle link.
There’s no doubt that sometimes advertising can be helpful – it might bring to light a product or even a whole category that the audience didn’t know about before. But more often, advertising these days is just “top of mind” advertising, designed to make one product or brand the first thing that a shopper thinks about when in fact they do leave the house to shop for something.
We’re trying to upend that advertising model. It’s difficult however. If your mind is the type to lean towards conspiracy theories, you can look at James Glattfelder’s TED talk where he revealed his team’s research into control of financial markets - the same corporation/group that caused the shift into desire-based promotions is also in control of the financial resources of the world markets.
Our goal at Holofy is not to create more advertising. God – enough with advertising already. Holofy’s goal is to help make advertising less sucky – to make it more useful, and about helping people find the things they need, not highlight things they desire or should have. So the extent that existing advertising can grab attention – it’s being designed to, afterall – then we can leverage that attention to give our audience better information about those products, more local resources to find something, better comparisons and alternative products to what’s being pushed in front of their faces in the underlying ads. Check out what we’re doing and support: HOLOFY.