Tuesday, October 09, 2007

message vs. content

The venerable Bob Greenberg on message vs. content. Not a lot of new information here, but he words it well.

I do beg to differ on the underlying premise: that digital media has languished in a prehistoric agency infrastructure/methodology. Quite the contrary, traditional advertising has learned to bend digital to its own means. And digital has learned some of its best tricks from traditional media's track record.

Both teams are winning. And the sooner everyone - including Bob Greenberg (does it sound like he has a chip on his shoulder re: traditional?) embraces the fact that advertising and interactive can - nay MUST - coexist, the better.

"The people who work in agencies—from planners (whose job is to come up with the insights that can fuel the one key idea) to copywriters (whose job is to reduce brands to a single punch line) to art directors (whose job is to create the brand look)—are organized around reductive messages."

That's pretty traditional (and terrifyingly simplistic) thinking from the guy who founded RG/A. And by the look of RGA's careers section, Bob is still hiring copywriters and art directors this week. Although they seem to, strangely, work in different departments. Oh. Kay?

Magazines aren't going anywhere in the next five years (they'd better not - my Texas monthly subscription runs through 2015). Same for paid television. And traditional advertising strengths - brevity, focus, clarity, visual dynamism - are all things that digital needs to learn. They're what makes a microsite effective. Face it - digital was nothing until it finally got video right. Why? People love to watch big, pretty images move across their plasma screens. 12 point green type doesn't cut it in 2007. And don't begrudge the role broadcast production has played in traditional media - it's borrowing from one of the most venerable of all industries: the movie industry. And movies aren't going anywhere either.

The brands that make the seamless integration from short traditional, focused narratives to deep and wide coverage online (and subsequent grassroots embracing from brand advocates who pick up the torch at the traditional or digital level) are the ones that will succeed.

Is traditional dead? Probably. But aren't we all? And there's plenty to see in the next five to twenty years of traditional advertising. Witness the reductive, but unbelievably compelling, work Sony is doing for Bravia right now. On TV and online.

It will be a far more exciting decline than the phase out of Beta.

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