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March 2009

Whatever Happened To The ART In Advertising?


I love browsing through Vanity Fair magazine. The articles are always interesting, and I always find cool ads strategically placed throughout the magazine. Gorgeous models dressed in the latest fashions, famous photojournalists taking us along for the journey - it's a welcome escape for these trying times!

One day I was surfing their website and came across an interactive version of their January 1935 issue. The cover was a rather animated looking version of Uncle Sam with his hands folded behind his back (OK - perhaps he also looks like one of those Wall Street types who was able to get out before the big collapse).

As I continued to browse through the issue, I noticed something interesting about the advertising. Each ad looked like a mini work of art - and each accompanying image told a story. There were no 3 or 4 word taglines, but a description of the product told through the eyes of the narrator. It was almost as if each ad was a mini screenplay of sorts.

An ad for Listerine was titled "Noah Webster thought that colds were caused by comets." The story goes on to say how Webster reached that conclusion, then describes the real reason behind colds (viral) - and tells the reader how Listerine can help to fight colds. The ad even refers to a scientific study or two.

Besides their visual appeal and impact, what makes these ads appealing is the amount of thought put into them. I'm not saying that modern day ads don't require a large amount of idea generation and thinking, but it seems the ads of yesteryear tell a story that I can remember. The ads relate to me at a human level. They ask me direct questions, and pique my curiousity by telling me who else is using the product. The illustrations are top notch, and point to people's personal experiences as a way of relating to my own needs.

The point is that I remember the ads - which makes me remember the products.

Have we lost the ART in advertising? Did the ad execs on the hit TV series Mad Men have something to say - and can we learn something from the success gained through the use of more traditional forms of advertising? Is there room for story and a more "artistic" approach to advertising in our fast paced digital world?

3 Ways to Get Free PR In A Recession

Times are tough, but they call for deeper and more creative measures to get the word out. Here are 3 ways to get free PR in a recession:

1) Find your angle and contact the editors of publications who could benefit from your expertise. If possible, create the angle around a timely issue. For example, does your product or service help the environment? If so, how? How could readers benefit by reading your story?

2) Volunteer to be a guest speaker at a trade show or conference. It's the perfect opportunity to showcase your skills to potential buyers

3) Establish yourself as an expert by joining the Board of Directors of an association. People will learn to recognize you as an expert in your field, and will start to come to you for advice when the time is right

So...selling your story doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Be innovative and smart - and don't give up. There are people out there who need to hear your story!

Person shouting