Sunday, March 09, 2014

Advertising's Peculiar Relationship With Technology


It's not hard to mock a hipster.

If your Twitter feed is anything like mine, it currently consists of about 50% excited posts from SXSW, and 50% mockery of people wearing Google Glasses, beards, or both. See image above.

But let's face it, all this mockery is just jealousy in disguise.

The truth is that the world of technology is now far more exciting and more profitable than the world of advertising. 

Advertising used to be a rock star scene. "I was 26, living in a house on Sloane Square, and earning more than the prime minister," recalls the author Peter Mayle, about his time in advertising in the 1960s.

Fortunes were made, big characters abounded, and the media were interested in us.

But the rock stars of business today are the people working in tech. And rightly so. They're making far bigger fortunes than we ever did. The industry is filled with characters way more eccentric than the wackiest copywriter ever was. And the media runs stories every single day about the latest technology products. 

On top of all that, the tech guys are making stuff that's far more remarkable than any advert could ever be, stuff that's genuinely making a difference to people's lives. And technology is actually changing the world - nearly always for the better. Whereas advertising has never been anything more than, in Vinny Warren's marvellous phrase: "The hair and make-up of capitalism."

And yet advertising has a long history of co-opting technology. The first cinema opened in the United States in 1896, and the first cinema ad was shown less than a year later. The first radio stations began broadcasting in 1920; radio advertising was introduced two years later. The same goes for the inventions of television and the internet. Whatever the new invention, advertising seeps in, like a gas.

The most exciting opportunities in advertising today are in the field of interactivity, we just need to figure out how to seep in better.

So although I'm not attending, I'll be following SXSW pretty avidly. And far from mocking the people who are there, I'll be hoping they have an absolutely stonking time... and bring back some answers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice piece of satire, made my day.