Anytime you attend a gathering of marketers these days, the discussion inevitably turns to when will traditional forms of advertising be declared officially dead. Some would say newspaper and television advertising is already dead. Maybe they are right. But at this week’s ANA conference in New York City, here is what I saw and heard.
We heard from conference sponsor The New York Times that they have made the decision to begin charging a subscription for their online content. And why shouldn’t that be the case? When was it decided that the same level of journalistic content and the effort it takes to produce it is suddenly free because it isn’t thrown on your driveway every morning. Why it took The Times so long to do is another debate, but they have put a stake in the ground that says our content has value. And advertisers who look on now know that the readers of the Times from this point forward are different than those that were reading it for free. They have an investment in it now and advertisers will be able to target these readers better.
We also saw one of the truly great television campaigns of the past few years and heard the back story. Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man In The World” is smart, funny and risky. The marketing team and the agency had to convince executive management that it would be a fantastic idea to have a 70-year-old spokesperson who told the world that he doesn’t drink beer, but if he did, it would be Dos Equis. It is the kind of campaign that seems to have no boundaries for where it can go and it is primarily driven by television. Sure, it gets huge viral play, but from the beginning it has been :15 and :30 spots that built the foundation.
What this teaches us is that we have to know how to adapt today. Newspapers aren’t dead yet, but the ones that are surviving are learning to adapt to the new world. One year from now, the concern about The Times charging for on-line subscriptions will be a distant memory. And I would also bet one year from now that the “Most Interesting Man In The World’ will still be telling us to “Stay Thirsty My Friends.”
I attended the ANA to do a presentation on cause branding with our client, Danielle Vona, of Sonic. She and I talked about cause in general and about the two-year-old cause program we worked with Sonic to create – Limeades For Learning. We had a lot of great feedback and questions and my last learning from the ANA is that cause branding is here to stay. But like every other marketing strategy, we must be ready to adapt. I will talk more about in the future.