The Beginning

Hello there blogsphere,

My name is Chris, and starting today I’m a blogger.

I thought I’d start my little corner of the internet with a question about ads. I’m thinking broadcast ads, specifically. That all-powerful TV spot.

It seems the TV spot has become something of a focal point for discussion about the future of the industry. For some the conversation is over—the TV spot is a dinosaur, a relic of a simpler time before DVR recorders, or earlier still when consumers engaged commercials with the same attention as their regular programming. My job at the ADC is to manage the Annual Awards—to coordinate the complex and wondrous process that bestows those big shiny Cubes. And as the awards manager I’ve had a chance to overhear a lot from industry big guns. I’ve also seen a staggering amount of work, so for the moment I’d like to speak on my own behalf and put a question to our readership.

This year many of our Cubes were given for TV spots (a la Skittles Combos or Indesit), yet the old standard 30-second format is under scrutiny. It is often held up as the example of an outdated methodology: one that is quickly losing footing in an age of integrated media. In response many clients are looking to integrated platforms to market their products to a more active audience, one that seeks out content and is not happy to just sit and let content come to it.

So why then are TV spots winning? When we hear phrases like “The death of the 30-second spot” should we treat it like any other deterministic media claim—“The death of painting” or “The death of punk rock?” Is it just something people say at a time of transition? (though FYI, punk is totally dead).

One of my thoughts is that the new breed of TV spot recognizes this instability and internalizes it. Many of the winners have a very ironic feel. It’s not irony in any classical sense, but a kind of ironic relationship to the formality of the medium. Audiences may not be looking for meaning or linear narrative, so why give it to them?

The other option is that while some agencies perfect their dexterity with new media, others strike gold by re-evaluating the old. The result is a handful of terrific TV spots on an otherwise tired channel.

At the end of the day, like most of you, I just watch the ads, I don’t make them. So I want to know what you think. What does the future hold for the TV spot? Do TV spots win awards out of some kind of nostalgia, or will this marketing Goliath be around forever?