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Strange Bedfellows, Stranger Rivals

These Days, You Never Know Where Competition Will Come From

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In the early days of the inter-web machine and related emerging technologies, ad agencies faced a weird dilemma: the sudden appearance of client conflicts that hadn't existed before. One day, the phone-company account only considered other phone companies as rivals; the next, that same client was forbidding its agency from pitching a cable TV operator's business. This happened throughout the technology and consumer electronics fields as those companies' offerings converged.

I was reminded of that this morning when I saw this piece in Variety about USA Network's plan to create a video Web site featuring only TV commercials in the hopes of becoming "the go-to destination for on-demand advertising content."

All due respect, but . . . What? Really? Our own Creativity site (including AdCritic) has seen competitors pop out of some strange places in recent years, but somehow I never viewed USA Networks as a rival.

Of course, that's really not the plan. While ours is a business-to-business site, USA is trying to cash in on the same consumer pop-culture interest in advertising that causes all those consumer media outlets to devote far too much ink and air time to Super Bowl spots every year. For my part, I believe that interest is over-rated. Yes, there are some ads that catch buzz and enter, even influence, pop culture. But I very much doubt there are many average consumers surfing around in the hopes of finding a site dedicated to old Kraft Mac 'N' Cheese ads.

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