I spent the day today as a judging chair for the first round of the 2011 Direct Marketing Association (DMA) International Echo awards at the DMA headquarters in New York City. I’ve been judging the Echo awards for something like 7 years. I always enjoy the experience mostly for being able to sit and talk with my fellow judges who almost universally are very experienced and have interesting viewpoints on marketing.
The submitted campaigns are judged on marketing strategy, creativity and results. Over the years it’s been easy to notice the changes in the submitted campaigns. When I first started there were many more dimensional mail campaigns – that is odd shaped pieces that were mailed direct to consumers or businesses. However in recent years I’ve seen fewer and fewer of those campaigns (and most of the ones I do see are non U.S. based). This year a social media category was introduced which while it comes as no surprise is interesting since evaluating the effectiveness of a SM campaign is not quite as easy as other channels.
But what struck me most today was the speaker Rick Segal – President of Gyro Agency here in New York. The discussion was centered on interruptive advertising and how (finally!) that has to change. My associate David Adelman of OCD Media has been riding that same horse now for quite some time. The point was that the idea of interrupting whatever people are doing to get them to pay attention to your message is increasingly less effective if not offensive. As if whatever you are doing is not nearly as important as the message we (advertisers and agency folk) are trying to broadcast.
Do you like pop-up ads on the internet? And what viewer loves the concept of a pre-roll ad in order to watch a program? How about an increased frequency of television commercials toward the latter (and often better) part of a program? Historically interruptive advertising has been used because agencies (and clients) are convinced it works. And I am not averring that it does not or cannot work. However it is a tired old way of doing things and I believe not consistent with the idea of being PART of the conversation.
Being part of the conversation is not easy since it goes against our nature and against the expectations of consumers. Product placement is a great example of non-interruptive advertising. Mr. Segal made some interesting references to people being more productive since they are more connected. He also noted that technology is creating more capacity for work – not necessarily saving individual people time since they can do and are expected to do more. Interestingly he mentioned the concept of brands sponsoring parks (again non-interruptive) and leisure time activities so that people could unplug and enjoy themselves – even during a ‘work day’. (Don’t even get me started on that since in some ways – every day can be a work day).
Lastly, we talked about the idea of not accepting ‘good enough’ work and striving for excellence and standout campaigns. Creating a memorable but non-interruptive campaign is a challenge I will be throwing down to our team as I am fully on board with that idea.
We can and must do better. I for one am tired of all the advertising interruptions. How about you?