Friday, July 24, 2009

No Brakes! No Brakes!

By Aaron Whitaker, MZD Sr. Copywriter

When I leapt feet first into advertising over a decade ago as a creative, the learning curve was fairly short and sweet. Or at least compared to a creative’s learning curve today.

Back then, I basically created radio spots, TV spots and print ads. The print ads could then be resized and tweaked with copy for billboards, bar coasters, table tents, POS, postcards, brochures, posters, t-shirts, bus shelters, bus wraps and whatever other item we thought would make sense to put our clients message on.

As the internet started to boom, there were web sites and eventually web banners. Still, all in all, the message was always the same, it was one way.
For centuries, advertising has spoken to the customer. It has told the customer what they should think. It has told the customer what they should do with the client’s product. It has controlled the client’s brand message almost completely. Sure, there has always been word of mouth, but it never had the reach that advertising had.

Until now.

Over the past two years, social media has boomed and agencies have either sunk or swam like there’s no tomorrow. Our clients are no longer in control of the message, their customers are.

While it’s still important to use traditional advertising mediums to build awareness and put their message out there for the masses to absorb, that initial message is just a spark to start the fire rather than the fire it once was.

Social media is where the message is fanned by the masses developing into an inferno. That inferno, while sometimes daunting, can go wild but it can also be controlled. Think of your clients’ message as a forest fire in social media. It might not be possible to put out the flames, but it can be pushed and directed towards the consumers fueling it with positive sentiments and kept at bay or reduced towards the consumers fueling it with negative sentiments.

The only way to do this is for clients and their agencies to jump into the fires rather than sitting back and watching their brands burn. And as a creative, it is my duty to my clients to understand this wild fire of social media and know or learn how to fight it, how to control it and how to turn it into a positive experience for both the clients brand and their consumers.

The learning curve is steep now and as a creative, you must not stop learning or you will surely drown amongst the waves of this social media hurricane.

The advertising world has indeed changed and tomorrow it will change again. Are you going to sink or are you going to swim.

While it’s more work, it’s tougher and I’m constantly having to learn something new, I am swimming and I’m loving it.

What are you doing?