Advertising’s New Idea: Don’t Push the Product; Pull the Consumer Instead

Washington Post has this interesting article where Steven Pearlstein writes about the ‘unadvertising’ culture that’s spreading in the ad business!

Back in the era of mass products, mass markets and mass media, it didn’t matter whether advertising was clever (Alka-Seltzer) or annoying (Charmin), or just plain boring (Chrysler, Ford, General Motors). If companies were willing to throw enough money at ads, buying enough "gross rating points," they could sell anything.

These days, however, the power has shifted from marketer to consumer. Thanks to the Internet and TiVo, digital radio and video-on-demand, consumers decide what information and entertainment they want. Rather than simply pushing messages on consumers, the trick is to get consumers to pull them.

Nobody understands this new strategy better than Bob Greenberg, the founder of R/GA, the hottest of New York’s interactive advertising agencies.

Greenberg has persuaded several companies — particularly those with younger customers — that they can no longer rely on traditional agencies for whom the starting point in any marketing campaign is the Big Idea that can be turned into a 30-second TV spot, a radio campaign and a full-page magazine ad. Only as an afterthought do they try to repackage those messages for delivery through alternative media or below-the-line channels — industry jargon that pretty much tells you where the new outlets fit in the traditional agency hierarchy.

"We’re in the business of stimulating consumer engagement, which is where things are going."

Greenberg’s got the evidence: This year, R/GA has added about 175 new employees to the 400 it had last year, many of them software programmers and technologists.

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