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June 7, 2010
Advertising Today Is Less Interested in Legs, More Interested in Tits
 
Nobody cares about “legs” anymore. While I certainly could be talking about our boob- and butt-obsessed culture, the point I wish to make relates to long-running advertising campaigns. It used to be standard procedure when assessing an ad campaign to determine whether it had legs or not. If the work felt like a “one-off,” it was usually cast aside. “Show me two more spots that work,” the creative director would say. “Then maybe you’ve got something.” Indeed, I spent much time thinking of additional ads to make my idea (or another’s) into a legitimate campaign. “Pool outs,” we called them. We do that less now.

Back when building a brand supposedly took time, it was deemed critical that marketing ideas have legs, particularly advertising campaigns.

Not so much anymore. The enduring idea has been usurped by the brazen, intrusive, and fresh. Increasingly, creative practitioners now look for short-term wallops as opposed to long-term thinking. Winning by knockout versus going 15 rounds.

This phenomenon speaks volumes about our business and the world we live in. We want what we want, and we want it right now! For the most part, we get it. The Internet changed everything. “Why wait?” is its mantra. Direct fallout, then, is our (consumers and creators) short attention span for advertising campaigns.

Experiential and event marketing enable us to touch, taste, and experience the product. Social media is not only the new thing, it is arguably the biggest thing to impact our business since viral video. We are living in the hyper present., so much so, bunches of clients are beginning to let go of their old ideas about building brands. Even campaigns that took decades to fashion are being tossed. But in exchange for what?

For years, Maytag was known as the “Dependability” company. The Lonely Repairman stood for a brand that never broke down. However, 10 years ago this famous idea began losing luster at Maytag. Old Lonely (as he was known) was, well, old and lonely. The client wanted something new and hip! I found it unconscionable that my former client would even consider walking away from “dependability.” I remember telling them that the out-of-work repairman was such a powerful idea it would be illegal had we just come up with it. Long story short, they still use Old Lonely but often as wallpaper behind sexier messages about style and performance.

What about “the ultimate driving machine,” BMW? It appears they have moved from the ultimate brand positioning to something about “joy.” My opinion: Joy is a woman’s name, not a reason to buy a BMW. I neither understand why they’re walking away or where they’re going. Do you? 

On the other hand, one has to give Kraft a lot of credit for breaking old habits and trying new ideas. Without listing our efforts on behalf of this client, look at what they’re doing with Miracle Whip in the U.S. and Lacta chocolate bars in Greece: This is pretty radical thinking from one of the oldest schools in marketing.

In the end, I’m not taking a side. I’m just pointing out how fussing over legs seems quaint these days, even old fashioned. Advertisers seem to favor showing us their tits.

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Chairman of Euro RSCG Worldwide Chicago, Steffan Postaer is responsible for its overall creative leadership and quality of the creative product. He’s received several prestigious awards, including a Kelly Award, Best of Show, Gold and Silver awards at the One Show, the Addys and a Cannes Gold Lion. Steffan has a novel about god and advertising and posts regularly on his blog, Gods of Advertising. Follow him on Twitter.

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