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There's More Than Just Digital in Advertising
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Yes, having a digital presence in today's world is important; everyone knows that. It is imperative that you have a website, and now even a LinkedIn profile, for people to know for sure you're in business. But we are tired of people — advertising "professionals," mainly — who constantly harp that the survival of advertising is based solely on its life in the digital age.

Stop it.

We have our gripes with the AdLand, too; we're not going to deny that. Our industry is not without fault. We have some really loud, bad apples. Recruiting the best talent for the industry continues to be a concern, from the talent pool to those recruiting. Minority participation. Lack of buy-in from Corporate America to invest in better research. Political correctness. Society's disillusionment and refusal to dream. These are all issues facing the landscape in which we operate. 

Transforming advertising into the digital world is the least of our worries.

But alas, a worry nonetheless. This time it's one of the cofounders of Questus, a digital media advertising agency based in New York. Of course, immediately you see that we have a digital media agency co-head talking about how all advertising won't survive unless it rethinks digital. Fortunately, there was enough substance in the article to not bank it as total self-promotion. First, he recognized that advertising is indeed facing a revolution; that a brand can build itself in other ways than the traditional forms of advertising. He said "more effective ways" in the article, but we would disagree. 

He then talked about his film, which documented that advertising used to be reactive rather than demonstrative. He believed that brands needed to actually be great, and that agencies had to stop being "a pack of well-paid liars." We found this string of comments rather interesting.

Did not Ogilvy begin the kind of market research and polling that we see movie theaters and production houses do today? Do we not see the product-line launches and brand evaluation today that George Lois used to help Aunt Jemima create a syrup line decades ago? Clearly he must not be talking about that kind of research and innovative thinking. Was Bernbach's VW campaign done by a bunch of liars? Were they all well paid? Not only does this article show the type of misinformed bias towards digital, but it throws the limelight on businesses that have poor products and pay money for advertising to help their image. The article said to pour money into the company to be great, and then use other channels to get your brand out. Other channels, of course, meaning social media. Then he mentioned that agencies should act like consultants and "improve their brand reputation based on actual accomplishments." Isn't that what agencies are supposed to do in the first place? Are we being too idealistic in what we thought agencies were to help brands do? To send a creative message to consumers that will resonate? 

The cofounder's background is in market research, which is in the client example they provided. They were able to establish the audience, find the key connection between the audience and the brand, and create a community based on the common ground. It just happened to be in the digital space.

It's not that different from just good advertising.

The main point of the article is making sure your agency pairs up with a brand that takes pride in what it provides, and uses research and quality work to make the audience speak for you. That's not the "rise of digital," that's just good advertising, and the method used simply happened to be digital.

It's true that digital media expedites the sharing within a group. But it takes, according to Mike Bayfield's piece on Uprising Movements, "...the ideas and messages themselves."

Advertising, as it always was, always is, and always will be, will survive based on the creativity of the ideas and messages. 


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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