When did advertising get so boring?

When did advertising get so boring?

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Guinness advertising

White horses of the Guinness advert

Wonderbra outdoor advertising Hello boys

The Wonderbra advert that made cars crash

Tango television advertising "you've been Tango'ed"

You’ve been Tango’ed

Levis laundrette TV advertising

Do you remember which single went to number one off the back of this ad?

Digital advertising has a lot to learn. There have been so many great ads over the years – the Levis ads launched many bands into the charts, Tango had kids slapping each other in the playground, billboards had cars crashing (Wonderbra) and Guinness produced small films that became events in their own right.

So why is it that digital advertising is so dull?

When you look at the ads that pop up in your social feeds, sit on the side of your favourite websites or appear in the listings when you do a search they tend to be less than exciting. They are very formulaic – this is what we do, look at this product, and try this to save that. It’s hardly setting the world alight or creating the memorable advertising that we remember from TV, billboards and press.

When it comes to dull pay-per-click or Google Display Network ads it could be excused by the requirement for keywords and targeting or maybe the size of the space but hang on, digital ads have so much more potential than a static billboard or press ad – there’s movement, interaction and most importantly a bigger and instantly accessible world that surrounds it. In fact, it’s not a stand-alone object but part of a much bigger picture; one step of a journey that can lead to, well, anything!

Ernest Hemmingway used a newspaper classified advert to tell the shortest story ever:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

So we know that space is no excuse, as that would leave plenty of characters in any pay per click campaign.

What about image ads? GDN, social advertising, native ads, even the lead images on your own website? Surely they could be more engaging? We’ve got carousels, gifs, video – the tools are all there to make these spaces far more interesting.

The concept of world building has been floated around a few times and adopted by some great creative agencies. When I first read about it they were talking about Dungeons and Dragons and how people imagine a world, populate it and go on adventures in the world they’ve created. When this is applied to a brand it makes the marketing experience more interesting, considers the end-users’ point of view and enables them to discover different elements that can lead them on their own adventure.

It takes the linear user journey and blows it wide open. It’s more creative, more flexible, more exciting.

As an industry, everything is moving so fast and yet the underlying principles stand fast. We have user journeys and user experience, customer personas and we understand emotive engagement; however, we’re still not joining them all together. There’s great potential to build these worlds by thinking more about the message and the creative delivery over the data. I’m not saying the data isn’t important – it certainly is; what I’m saying is don’t let the data blind you to the creative potential.

We recently won a new and well-known client (the press release will follow soon) and the basis of that decision was on our creative approach that connected the advertising to the social content, website and the product experience.

If you are interested in making your digital advertising more interesting, let’s have a chat – call Andy Smith on 0161 941 4252.


Ben Martin

Creative Director