Looking around the ad industry these days it's easy to get discouraged. Advertising, once a mighty cultural force, is not that today. It's a hard reality that advertising has become a series of pop-up ads and annoyances that disrupt and even ruin our content viewing experience.
Over the past decade or so, the pendulum has swung dramatically–from sustained and classic marketing campaigns with jingles that still resonate in our minds to marketing messages targeted (and sometimes even generated) by machines fed into other machines and ultimately shoved in front of as many people as possible, as many times as possible.
Tantalized by the efficiency of these new machines and programmatic technologies we've almost adopted a Ron Popeil-esque attitude to advertising–"just set it, and forget it!"
We've lost touch with our consumers and we've cluttered the experience. We've moved away from brand engagements that are built on trust and transparency which deliver real impact over long periods of time. They've been replaced by middlemen, platforms, and machines. We've gone away from developing the next great on ramps to better consumer experiences and done what's easy and cheap.
We must look to reinvest human capital back into transformational partnerships, ones facilitated by technology but not wholly driven by it.
Consider sports, for example. Today, it's not just about the action happening on the field or on the court, but also about the drama happening in the locker room, all of the jockeying in the offseason, what sneaker fans' favorite athletes do and do not wear, and so on. It's as much about lifestyle as it is about the game.
Sports are always-on endeavors and ones that transcend generations. When you think of Michael Jordan in the 1990s, you're apt to also think about his hair-brained McDonald's commercials with Larry Bird. When you think of March Madness, you may also remember Capital One's hilarious "Steaks on a Plane" commercial with Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee and Charles Barkley.
Marketers that embrace this approach see the most value. Breakthrough creative ideas can only be formed through true partnerships, ones manically focused on connecting with people on a deeper, emotional level. As famed creative director Bill Bernach once said, "Good advertising does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public mind with desires and belief." Has a programmatic ad ever done that?
How marketers effectively put that into practice within sports provides a solid blueprint for how the industry can begin to return to its partnership roots. Here are a few considerations.
Embrace the Culture & Opt into the Fandom