Saturday, March 06, 2010

The end of the AD MEN as seen on MAD MEN

Why advertising has changed forever and will never go back to the way is was.

VANCOUVER – As a young boy I was introduced to the ad business because my Father worked in advertising. It was a fun and dynamic world that was full of exciting characters, creative people, energy and money.

I grew up in a neighborhood were most of my friends parents were doctors, lawyers and other professionals. We all had nice homes, two nice cars, stay-at-home moms and lived a great life full of swimming pools, backyard BBQ’s and vacations. My father was NOT a doctor or lawyer, he was in advertising.

The AD MEN of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were wild characters. They drove the best cars, ate in the best restaurants, hung out with the sports celebrities and enjoyed Martini’s with agency buyers and direct clients until the order was booked. Often, business wasn’t even discussed during these infamous lunches and the contract renewals just flowed like the wine and fine food.

I always knew when one of my Father’s fellow ‘peddlers’ would show up by the flashy cars they drove, the swagger in their walk and the way they spoke.

This ‘elite’ group of well paid advertising wizards truly did help their customers sell more products and increase sales. They played a key role in the success of so many of the brands we now know today.

When I followed in the footsteps of my Father and entered the ad game myself, my expectations were to continue the exciting life that had I had been exposed to. After 25 years in the business myself, I can say that it's been very good to me too. I’ve earned large sums of money, owned expensive cars, traveled and tasted what life looks like from a private suite at an NHL hockey game and court-side seats at an NBA game. The life of the AD MEN in the 80’s and 90’s was still pretty sweet.

Enter the boom of 1998 and the bust of 2001

My guess is the first wave of the dot com boom at the end of the century was the beginning of the end for life as we know it in the typical ad world.

First, technology and specifically the internet started getting traction and although most of the business models had not taken hold, we knew as a society that this ‘connectivity’ thing was going to change the way people and brands interact with each other. When the ‘dot bomb’ hit in April 2001, it really was the start of what we see today as a major shift in the old style of advertising and marketing brands, products and services.

2010 marks the end of the AD BIZ as we know it.

Fast forward to 2010 and we might as well say that the old model of advertising is over and the AD MEN as depicted in MAD MEN wouldn’t stand a chance in today’s world.

The idea that a brand can create a cute positioning line, advertise it on TV and increase market share is still possible, it’s just more complicated now. The number of ways that a consumer is able to connect with a product is growing and the flow of information is no longer one-way. In fact it is no longer just two-way as consumers communicate with each other using blogs and Wiki’s.

The AD MEN of today better have a more open attitude about how traditional media and new media will work together to create advertising that is relevant and effective. The successful AD MEN of 2010 will convince advertisers to keep a percentage of their budgets in traditional, larger reach mediums like TV while encouraging them to ramp up online, social media and mobile marketing initiatives. Make no mistake, this is an exciting time to be in advertising. The AD MEN that recognize and embrace the new way of communicating with customers will succeed and continue to play a role in the success of their advertisers.

Mitch Drew

Mitch Drew is a television advertising salesperson in Vancouver. He is an active blogger, writer and social media expert.

This article was inspired by a conversation about the book.

Googled: The End of the World as We Know It by Ken Auletta

1 comment:

  1. There are many interesting paralells here between the world of advertising and the music business. People at all levels in our industry have had to re-think their approach and purpose on many levels. I'm impressed with the vast amount of musicians who have embraced social media and networking sites in effort to connect with their audience on a personal level. In some way this gives the consumer a richer experience than they used to have when their only options were to look at the pictures and read the liner notes on an album cover or to wait for a magazine article or concert to come to town. We've all had to re-invet ourselves. For you AD MEN these challenges really must be exciting considering that with this new online format there are endless new possiblities to consider and ideas that have not even been concieved yet. Unlike old TV or print ad campaigns where that was pretty much it.
    Nice site. :)