Hear me out. We’re living in the residual days of advertising power. Back in the day, if you worked in advertising, you very much shaped culture. Advertising creatives shared the airwaves with only the likes of Hollywood and national news. There were only so many pipes into culture and advertising was a big one. But today, the pipes are democratized. Random teens on TikTok are having more impact on culture than Mad Ave. And yet, so much ego and self importance remains.

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I see a lot of this romanticized thinking about the advertising days of yore. There was never an era when ad creatives were pumping out the hits left and right. Let alone shaping culture like some big brother marketing messiah. Most advertising has always been bad. Bad bad. As times goes on we just forget about all the bad stuff because it's nothing worth remembering. It's easy to convince yourself that advertising used to be something it never was if you look at a highlight reel and call it historic record. As far as permeating culture, sometimes advertising does, has, and always will. "Dilly dilly" broke through, just like "no but I did stay at a holiday Inn last night" did before that, just like "takes a lickin and keeps on tickin" did before that. Sticky things stick. Sometimes those sticky things come from ads.

likesmart

Senior copywriter is correct. It’s not just romanticizing a bygone era. That misses a lot of what has been happening for two decades now. I think the loss power has been incremental and very frustrating to be a part of in real time. I can’t count the number of blank stares I’ve seen in meetings when I brought up any type of data tracking tech or software development or even content management systems for clients. We are now so far behind in tracking and delivery of our “great ideas” that merging and buying tech companies won’t work. We are at the mercy of tech companies that hold all the data and ai now. We are forced to use their services and compete with millions of individuals many of whom have great ideas. And rising star talking about how much “crap music” there was in the 60s 70s and 80s misses how innovative we were musically and technologically in the USA. Since the 30s tech has had huge impacts on culture and music. We invented the loud speaker the electric guitar etc and we led the world in music experimentation for almost a century. We invented jazz, blues, r and b, gospel, funk, rap, hip hop, rock etc... Advertising agencies are like folk musicians who thought things like the electric guitar and drum machines and turntables were fads. And the “ego and self importance” I read daily here is exactly the same as the people who bashed Dylan when he went electric. Sorry for the ancient reference but there was some bad music this century because people were going for it. Turntables and stomp boxes etc... Advertising agencies have been static and safe.

Yes and no. It depends on what type of media you are talking about. It was always 0.01% of brands that actually became a part of culture. The rest are just following category and societal convention. Apple, Nike, Oatly, KFC, Wendy’s - these brands are all active participants in culture. Not every brand needs to be. I don’t need my detergent telling me it works via a music video. I just need to know it works. You can no longer just build a brand via traditional media. TV, print, radio etc - this is because of the internet - that’s why you feel our power is waning, when it really isn’t - the internet, social, digital - has given us thousands of opportunities to create connections with our customers. Yes, Tiktokers are incredible, but building a brand is done via mental and physical availability, and consistent single-minded messaging for a number of years - e.g. Nike ‘Just do it’ - that’s why agencies will always have a place. We’re just in a very fragmented time for our industry. There is still value to what we do. The problem is that most agencies have forgotten what they’re good at and tried to be all things to all clients.

likesmart

You’re not wrong, but all I read was “Oatly”

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We sell products and services. Did you get into this industry thinking you were going to change the world?

likefunnysmart

None of the things you mentioned are indicators of whether advertising is effective. Even the best companies in the world can shoot themselves in the foot, especially when they’re beholden to holding companies.

Shaped culture? That’s hyperbole or exaggeration at best. Were there notable ads, yes just as there are now but shaping culture. If you think the Karl Malden Amex campaign is en par with The Godfather, Happy Days or disco for that matter, I think you’ve mistaken the cultural reach of the profession.

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i can count on two hands ads that “shaped culture.” they’re the exception, not the norm.

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yet most traditional ad creatives don't respect social 😘

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TBWA1 good one 👉😂👉

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Maybe. I think a lot of advertising these days is just bad. Either from clients who don't want to rock the boat, high up creatives who don't understand that tastes have changed or lower levels not understanding what things resonate (doing impressions of what they see vs innovating). To a degree all have been true for ages. Def more to compete with attention wise, and more avenues to be seen since it's easier than ever to find a platform. At the end of the day though it still comes down to consistency. A random kid may strike gold once (same as a junior creative) but our job is to do it consistently, not just once.

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That's not to say it's mutually exclusive, both can be true.

hear me out. no we aren’t

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Smart post. We honestly just aren’t as relevant/ important as we once were.

likesmart

My job is not to shape culture. My job is to sell our products.

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That’s giving advertising way too much credit if you think it shapes culture.

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That’s my point. I don’t believe it does, at least not at the level it used to. However, the irony is that the ego within the ad industry is still firing on all cylinders. Like many in this thread have stated - we make ads. So let’s stop kissing rings then.

For those on here saying advertising doesn't shape culture, I'd offer up Santa Claus, Michelin Stars, the diamond engagement ring, and orange juice as counterexamples. All created by advertising.

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They're all good examples. Once again, watch The Great Hack, it's a contemporary version. Now that's a well funded, intelligent, cohesive team, so not your typical agency crew, but still a contemporary example of using ads to shape culture very succesfuly.

Advertising is still pervasive, platforms may change but ads infect all all of them.

Ad blockers. Enough said.

Go watch The Great Hack on Netflix. You're more powerful than ever. Not that an agency team could pull that off, but in theory if one were to actually want to they could.

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