Millennial satiation

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We, the advertising and marketing community, are at serious risk of letting a rare and wonderful opportunity slip away. Returning to business as usual can only subdue the idealism and zeal each of us may have felt waking up in the new century.

These day-to-day preoccupations can easily distract us from this historic moment: the opportunity, in this new millennium, to become active participants in shaping the communication options of the future.

The marketing world must create a better way of speaking to customers, applying imagination to the rapidly transforming, digitally enhanced media landscape while not abandoning traditional disciplines.

Media content, in virtually every sensory format, can now be literally melted into an almost completely liquid state through digitization. This liquidity allows us to mold and reshape content in as many ways as there are individuals interested in experiencing it.

Content can be packaged and distributed in an addressable and personalized manner through twisted copper, coaxial cable, glass fiber and very soon thin air. Yes, it allows virtually unlimited opportunities to dream up new ways to embed information about the products and services of clients and communicate to a more finely screened audience of prospective customers within increasingly symbiotic environments.

Let's not use commercialization as a dirty word in this context. It can be done in a manner that is no less respectful or more intrusive on individuals than current ad-supported media.

In fact, increased levels of financial and intellectual investment by the marketing community are essential in the economic model that will allow this technology-driven media revolution to achieve universal penetration and usage.


But here's the rub. Realistically speaking, the revolution will need to be financed through a reallocation of current marketing budgets rather than the creation of new budgets for the "privilege" of using the new media.

In broad category terms, we cannot sell more cars, sneakers or boxes of cereal to a finite universe of people as a result of new technology.

To fund these new media efforts, marketing executives will need to take a fresh look at the macro-level allocation of budgets as new media forms begin to take on some of the blended attributes of traditional advertising media, promotion and direct marketing.

Ultimately, this will not be a decision to reallocate between existing media and new media, rather it represents a fundamental transformation of existing media into new media.

It's all being systematically deconstructed and melted down into digitized form for agencies to reconfigure into better media products for the consumer and stronger communication vehicles.

All media are being influenced -- whatever our new converged video-based products will be called (telenet/intervision), digital satellite radio, personal print tablets and pocket PCs.

I'm happy to know that the shallow exterior of the Y2K/millennium phenomenon, which started out with fascinating concepts but quickly fell into the trap of becoming overly contrived and trivialized, is over for now. What I don't want to lose are the actual possibilities this rare moment can conjure up and inspire.


For at least a brief moment, early in the morning on Monday 1/3/00 when some of us came back to work and allowed ourselves to get carried away with our serendipitous entry into a fresh new millennium without any jaded sarcasm, we felt like we were pioneers; that we would not only live through dramatic changes in how media is defined and used, but that we would be precipitating that change.

Well, just because a little time has passed and our worlds once again seem to be filling up with our day-to-day preoccupations, I want you to know. This is real.

Mickey Marks is exec VP-general manager of Creative Media in New York.

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