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Sometimes It Really Is Better To Run With Scissors
By: Brian Joyner
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There is an old saying that if you run with scissors, you are going to get hurt. Go too far in any situation and you risk failing.  

In the advertising world, this is often translated into something like, “push boundaries, but don’t cross the line.” Get the most out of your project, but don’t overstep those crucial boundaries. Because the advertising world is as much about business metrics (such as return on investment and conversion rates) as it is about coming up with creative (and often edgy) ideas, the old saying holds true for a lot of situations. It is, in that way, a very important rule.

But here comes the Internet. It’s a game changer virtually any way you look at it. Media giants like Youtube and Facebook have not only changed the boundaries of what’s possible for available and affordable media placement, but more importantly, the Internet has changed the boundaries of what’s possible creatively.  

Unlike prior advertising ages, the consumer is increasingly not just on the listening end of a campaign, but oftentimes a strong creative force themselves. That’s huge.

Take for example Wieden + Kennedy’s widely acclaimed work with Old Spice. The Response project would never have been creatively possible without the Internet. It not only relied on Internet-based media outlets like Youtube for affordable broadcasting (imagine the cost of doing this with television), but its 186 follow-up videos were directly inspired by consumer responses collected via the Internet.  

Although this campaign seems to embody what advertisers traditionally define as letting creatives “run with scissors,” the campaign is, in reality, nothing more than a solid hit on the creative’s part. Yes, it’s a creatively strong campaign well deserving of awards, but it’s not crossing boundaries.

So, where are the creative boundaries of the Internet? Will the current trend toward increased web privacy affect how creatives approach new campaigns? And where does this leave the future of more traditional media outlets, like television?


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About the Author
Brian Joyner is 24-year-old graduate of UNC-CH working in the advertising and entrepreneurial world and attempting to make his professional mark on that world. Find him online here
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