AdLand gets quite creative when they try to tell people outside the industry what they do. So creative, in fact, that people may get the completely wrong idea of what they actually do. What comes to your mind when you hear "Social Media Ninja"? Does a professional in front of a screenshot of HootSuite and a data management system come to mind, or a cloth-clad warrior tossing Twitter's failwhale into the sea?
Change Agent? Unmarketing Specialist? Brand Talker?
It takes effort to be noticed in today's business environment, especially in a marketplace where creativity still reigns supreme. It takes an idea, a concept, an insight into consumer behavior that can make or break a campaign. With just anyone calling themselves an advertising or marketing professional, there seemed to be a need to create titles and action words that described people's skills more accurately.
But is this a good thing for advertising? Is the fact of a cluttered industry the only cause of all of these crazy and increasingly annoying titles? We don't believe so. As in any issue, there are multiple perspectives. We believe that the combination of corporate marketers, AdLand itself, and consumers' perception of advertising all caused people to run away to these extraordinary lengths.
Corporate Marketers: Pleasing the C-Suite
Marketers and small business owners believe that their organization cannot take just any communications professional. The traditional agency or freelancer won't and can't do their brand justice. It needs something more. It needs an expert. A guru. A specialist. Someone who calls himself either one of those previous words have to be good, right? Of course, then, marketers and organizations gave business to the proclaimed experts, specialists and gurus, since they are obviously the ones who know what they're talking about.
AdLand: Following the Lead
One thing AdLand is good at is picking up hints. If the group doesn't set the trend, it does well to jump on the bandwagon. As freelancers, small shops, and bigwigs called themselves experts, gurus, and the like, and were getting business, the rest of the crowd followed. Then, as advertising tends to do, it took it up to the hyperbole notch (think Spaceballs' "Ludacris Speed"). Enter the ninjas, agents, and unmarketers.
Society: Down Goes Advertising
In too many posts to link, we've mentioned the bad reputation that advertising has built. A few bad apples have placed a bad taste in the mouths of many. From groups like Adbusters, who are using advertising to "destroy" it, to documentaries that need sponsors to help spread their message of less advertising, the efforts to give advertising a bad name seem more ironic than effective. But in any case, when regular people hear about advertising and marketing, their associations tend to be more negative than positive. Which is interesting, because it is the opposite when one mentions an ad campaign from a brand they happen to like. So not all is lost, but it is clear that in general there is work that needs to be done.
And it is a vicious cycle, to be sure. In a big industry, there will be more losers than winners, and the bad will no dobut get more attention than the good. But we can quiet some of the bad by reigning in the nonsense. Not every "expert" is good, and not every "guru" mediates on sound marketing practices. It is going to be a process to highlight the good and great in advertising, but it is possible.