John Hegarty's rant last week on how TV ads are getting worse fails to recognize that advertising is now witnessing its most creative dawn. Never before has marketing been so exciting and innovative. It's why now is such a fun time to be a part of this industry.
I spent a couple years at the Death Star (as it was affectionately known by BBH employees). Hegs was one of the most enjoyable creative directors I had the pleasure of working with in 15 years of advertising. And it was truly enjoyable producing some great advertising for Audi, Barclays and Lynx.
We made slick TV ads, beautifully crafted by well-paid creative teams. Print ads followed an equally well-trodden path. Agencies knew what they had to do to help clients sell more products. Back then, agency life was, well, simple.
John has always been critical of using data in advertising, but clever data usage is the only real hope advertising has left in its ability to survive in a chaotic and democratized world. The world's biggest TV networks can't guarantee brand advertisers 18-34 year olds. YouTube and Facebook can and they do it through data.
Now that marketing has taken a paradigm shift and is entering the abyss of the unknown, brands and their agencies can no longer rely on such conventional ways of marketing; it's now all about data. Does that great TV ad work? Do clever posters on subways have any real impact? Does that extremely expensive full page in the NY Times move the needle? Without data, brand advertisers are just shooting in the dark.