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Breaking points: an industry faces its own contradictions

Breaking points: an industry faces its own contradictions

This post was originally published in French and in a slightly different format on the Infopresse website. 

The 10th edition of the Advertising Week began, Monday Sept. 23rd in New York, on the back of growing tensions in the advertising industry. New media, new generations, new organizations: many frontlines are opening up several points of disruption, when the divide is not literally an abyss. 


During the first talk of the day, Sid Lee's vice-president Eric Alper set the tone, describing the program conceived by the agency in partnership with the Swedish Vodka manufacturer Absolut: "This is not a campaign, it's a platform". Interestingly, the next panel put forward the loss of control, suggesting the emergence of a new mainstream, but with a slippery, unseizable focal point.  


In this perspective, agencies cannot simply be the external providers of advertising for  products and services. They become the "social muscle" which cannot be conceived as removed from the body, that of the client. Without proper grafting, there can be no movement. It is not a matter of producing excellent television spots or slick interactive apps ; it's about reaching out to each and every one of the brand's "fans", who speak to it, of it, for it, on Twitter, on Facebook, and everywhere else. 


Such a discourse on the branded environment is not structured so much around disruption anymore - what is the point of perpetually looking for disruption when a model is successful? - but rather, a matter of reproducing moments of "eruption". The new phenomena are not created behind closed doors, no matter how many dry-erase markers and post-its you may use - but rather, they "emerge"... and increasingly so, they do so very, very fast. It is simply not sufficient anymore to create campaigns for clients in an industry like Absolut Vodka's, where products require little time to launch and to mature. What may be done is to rely on manifestos, hymns and lasting narratives that harness, for instance, the authenticity of an artist's creativity to embody the brand's values in its multiple shapes.  


In this new organization, creativity isn't exclusively the fact of creatives. Between crowdsourcing movements, which involve the masses in constructing the larger pans of the creative process, and the stimulation of clients' creativity via co-creation and other collaborative methodologies, little is left for the Don Drapers of this world. This is truer still due to the fact that the archaic advertisement production system generates little in terms of incentives for the young generations. The latter want to invest their energy in engaging and authentic projects. The advertising industry - which is perceived by the Millenials to be more of a lifestyle than an industry per se - runs the risk of missing out on the full extent of their talents. 


Part of the verdict at the end of this first day came from the 4A’s "Competitive Edge" panel: the future of the industry will depend on its ability to seduce these new talents and integrate them to new organizational configurations built in and around agencies. It is only clear that it will not be able to do so without first facing its numerous contradictions.


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.


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