Dave Trott often quotes the statistic that we don’t remember 89% of the advertising we’re exposed to. That suggests that there is a massive amount of built-in wastage that supports the effective parts of an industry worth billions of pounds a year. We create what we create in the knowledge that the vast majority of people won’t give the first or last toss about it.
Isn’t that kind of odd? And in the thousands of years advertising has existed the rate can’t have improved. That might be a result of the giant number of messages we’re now exposed to (after all, who could possibly take in 100% of them?), but still, we all pretty much hate almost all advertising. From the most expensive 90-second extravaganzas to the most bovine banners on the side of your Facebook page, if anyone asked you if you’d like to look at an ad voluntarily you’d think they were mad before telling them to fuck off.
Part of me wonders if that’s the reason some people in the industry are trying to circumvent the inherent dislikeability of conventional ads and are instead trying to create other things entirely: social campaigns that have little or nothing to do with the products they sell, books, tattoos on footballers… Aren’t they all just attempts to sneak ads past people who don’t want to experience the things that interrupt their TV programs? Is it the equivalent of smothering a piece of broccoli in Nutella to hide the taste? Will the public end up becoming inured to these new forms, then hate the industry even more for trying to fool them?
The odder thing is that there’s no consensus about the right way to go. Billions are pouring into annoying ads for shoes that follow you around the internet right after you buy a pair of shoes. Is that a good idea, or are the fake bike paints, TV series and pizza delivery apps better? Never mind all the clients who still think the best use of their money is to fill ad breaks and posters sites.
Perhaps we’re just ignoring a more obvious fact: it doesn’t actually matter where we put a message, or what form it takes, so long as people like it.
Isn’t that all that matters? All that’s ever mattered?