/ Ideas

Advertising is ________?

Advertising is ________?

…is it dead?


Marketing, traditional marketing that is, and everything it refers to including advertising, was declared dead in 2012 by Bill Lee in an article published by the Harvard Business Review. And with this statement, Mr. Lee clearly caused a little commotion. In fact, Mitch Joel wrote an article in response to this, suggesting that what seemed to be the message was that traditional advertising was dead. And so the debate was launched. (You can follow the discussion here.)


Today, in The Definition of Advertising has Never Been more Unclear, Randall Rothenberg is confirming that advertising is still alive and well, but sheds light on its meaning, or the lack of clarity regarding it. He suggests – and might shock those still living in another era along the way – that advertising needs a new definition.


More precisely, advertising as we knew it, the one from the Mad Men era, seems to be dead. And its obituary generated a quest to answer the many questions managers are faced with today. Given the diversity of the media landscape – variety of platforms, content, different distribution channels, different ways of doing business, new jargons, old jargon, hashtag this, tweet me that… – no wonder the Drapers of this world get confused when it comes to ads and how to go about them.  


Well, tells us M. Rothenberg, “there is no machine or even consensus on the basic definition of advertising. And that is the source of both opportunity and crisis.”


In a nutshell, he highlights four main perspectives, four ways of thinking about advertising today that are, in his view, divergent:

1. Social: the "if you are not online, you do not exist" perspective

2. Mobile: the "if we can’t reach you anytime, anywhere, you are out of the game" perspective

3. Useful: the "if you are just going to talk to talk, but have no purpose, then you just can’t be" perspective. (On that note, another interesting read.)

4. Liquid (interesting term, isn’t it?): the "create experiences across platforms, that fit anywhere, everywhere" perspective


These views are giving us hints to come up with a new definition. The landscape is moving, rather has already moved. Now is the time to move forward. Out with the old, in with the new. “Advertising needs to be redefined” challenges Mr. Rothenberg. Are you up for the challenge?


f. & co is attending Advertising Week in New York as social reporters for the Association des agences de publicité du Québec (AAPQ) and as part of the montré delegation. Follow our meanderings and trendspotting on Twitter at #RDVAdWeek and #AWX. Find all AdWeek-related posts on blog, here.


comments powered by Disqus