Advertising and the new Media

Cannes Advertising Festival is taking place this week, so it’s a perfect opportunity for the various execs to pipe up about how their business is adjusting to the new world. Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, talked on Monday in the Financial Times .

The head of the UK advertising group also acknowledged the difficulty of competing against websites that destroyed business models. “How do you deal with socialistic anarchists?” he asked, referring to Craigslist, the popular, free classified advertising site that has been threatening revenues at US city newspapers. “The internet is the most socialistic force you’ve ever seen,” he added, noting that the response from some media groups had been to offer their content for free in traditional and digital form.

Not necessarily the best thing to call one of the most successful websites. Especially as he goes on to state that successful companies need to good people and changewho have been used to the quick reactions of the web. As most of these are probably extremely at home with Craigslist, far more so than the ads produced by most of WPP’s group of agencies. He thinks that agencies need to set up a separate group to manage through the changes.

Meanwhile Craig Davies, worldwide creative director of the JWT recognsies the change..”The redefinition of advertising is not being led by ad agencies. It is a consumer-driven phenomenon. There are just so many ways to say no to advertising.” (also FT, but firewalled). So he thinks that “The challenge to us is to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”

So in an attempt to do just that, JWT took over all the advertising on the Huffington post for a week. Let people watch full ads when they want, is the idea. Unfortunately part of the campaign slightly backfired..the ‘buzz marketing’ part. MaxPower has a good breakdown of what appears to be astroturfing

There a lots of companies that provide this service, sending out information and tips to blogs, message boards and other community sites. I’m not against it, as long as done openly. If the ad/game/video etc is good, it will usually be picked up, but doing it in an underhand way is old school marketing, doing it openly is closer to to the concept of markets of conversations – sending on stuff to people you know..and being honest about why you are doing it. In this case, it looked like whoever was behind the emails was not that clear..leading pretty quickly to a bad taste in the mouth of a few of the bloggers on the receiving end.

And in the spirit of disclosure, I’m currently doing some work for JWT…but nowhere near the stuff mentioned above 😉

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