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Should Ads Be Smarter?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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When do we call the consumer's bluff and see how smart and aware they truly are? Or, when do we stop insulting the public and raise the standards of advertising?

This question focuses primarily on B2C advertising creative, because the B2B creative that we have seen, been a part of, or read about doesn't take its audience for granted. B2B advertising is smart, targeted and diverse. B2B must have those elements to get the attention of the people making the purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, those elements have not carried over into the B2C realm. Why is that?

It is hard to say. In recent times, there has been much talk about the level of our society's communication. It was reported months ago that Congress, on average, speaks at an eighth-grade reading level. The same was said about President Obama's 2012 State of the Union address. Many attributed that to the kind of "talent" that is being attracted to politics versus the kind of audience the politicians are trying to attract. We believe the latter.

It makes an interesting argument. If the average American reads at eighth-grade level, does that mean that their competency hasn't matured past then too? Based on the kind of creative that is made for the "masses," it is hard to argue that AdLand or the clients they work for make that conclusion.

For example, although the majority may not understand Einstein's Theory of Relativity, we would like to believe that many people know who he is and that he was the man behind it (and bonus points for Manhattan Project references).

With the Information Age at full speed, and Millennials reaching maturity, it is time to consider how we're packaging our content. If consumers don't understand or recognize what they're seeing, can we not rely on their access to technology and let them look it up? We want to empower our audience with knowledge and not assume that they know nothing and spoon-feed mush to them. That's not how it works anymore.

We're not saying that AdLand needs to deviate away from our primal needs and wants. We just want to see if the public can handle a smarter conversation about it, rather than telling men that they can get a bunch of boobs in their faces if they do this, or buy that.

If consumers are tired of being talked to like teenagers, let's make the conversation smarter and see how they respond.

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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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