My Hopes for Advertising in 2009

New year. New president. New episodes of Lost. New Advertising agencies?

While we’re going through times of amazing change right now, corporate marketing — and especially creative advertising agencies — haven’t evolved so rapidly. Despite the enormous uptick in social media by everyone and their moms, a lot of companies still don’t get it. There’s too much “we need a Facebook page!” and too little “how do we use this technology to support our goals?”

And while yesterday, the day of Obama’s inauguration, was the highest traffic day for web video in history, many media companies treat Web video just like they do TV — interspersing it with 15-second commercials.

And then there’s the world of creative advertising. The big traditional agencies are still thinking it’s all about messaging, but along with several other folks I know, my gut tells me traditional approaches are like an icky stale fig newton. Advertising is now all about engagement and customer experience.

This Gaping Void cartoon sums up what I hope happens to advertising in 2009 perfectly. I hope that both creative agencies, and especially their clients — mid-level marketing managers — both realize that it’s not about messaging anymore.

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Today’s advertising should be about:

1) Nimble studios developing collaborative partnerships to make small but groundbreaking work.
Barbarian Group and Crispin Porter + Bogusky

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2) Participating in the conversation — listening and responding helpfully.
@comcastcares on Twitter.

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3) Seeding popular culture with material to riff on.

Byonce is as legit a brand as Coke. However unintentional, this video inspired a slew of impersonators to upload their own dances to YouTube.

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4) Leveraging technology to augment products and branded experiences in ways that bridge the gap between our digital and analogue worlds.

Nike plus did this in ’07, and Obama did it in ’08 — using new tech and social media to help people organize locally.

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Predictions, hopes, complaints, call them what you will. I’d love to hear what you think about where advertising should go in 2009.