2017: The Year of Literal Disruption in Advertising

Ardmore's Planning Director and resident industry evaluator, Ed Henderson, examines the highs and lows of advertising in 2017.

Picture of Ed Henderson

Ed Henderson

Happy New Year! Now is always a good time to stop and reflect on the last twelve months, take the lessons they've taught us on board, and make some resolutions to make this year even better.

So, with this in mind, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on some of the industry themes and trends over 2017 and give you my hot take on what we can and should learn from it.

First up is Millenials. A relatively new audience group that were, and still are, positioned in the advertising press as a massive opportunity for brands and organisations to reach. However, in 2017 it felt like an awful lot of brands started to stray away from who they actually should be talking to so they could get down with the kids. The most notorious example of this came in the form of that Pepsi advert featuring Kendal Jenner.

Big social issues from the year which resulted in protests such as the “Black Lives Matter” movement acted as the basis for the concept, which was essentially a passionate protest against something very unspecific, with Pepsi there to make it all better. Take a look:

The distant connection on this one became instantly apparent the second a can of Pepsi was introduced on screen. After about a week, this was, quite rightly pulled after it picked up a huge amount of negative press and social media backlash. Being too close to your product doesn’t always mean you have the right answer when it comes to talking with people who aren’t close to it.

The moral: brand confidence is the most appealing thing to attract the right people.

Next up, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became an increasingly important topic, and rightly so. People’s personal information is an incredibly valuable asset and needs to be treated with absolute respect and care. So, it was great to hear that GDPR was getting focussed attention and treated as a serious issue that all companies collecting data will need to adhere to.

Call me old fashioned, but if you weren’t already all over your loyal customers' personal data, you need to be asking yourself some bigger questions than how to prepare for GDPR. In advertising, data is a precious commodity – it is the fans of your brand telling you more about themselves to get closer to what you have to say. If you are passing it on without their consent, your brand deserves to feel the pressure right now.

Finally, in a year of political distrust and paranoia, the digital duopoly of Facebook and Google came under heavy media scrutiny in their reporting of figures and placement of advertising content. Advertising agencies scrambled for solutions while clients did absolutely everything to avoid their CEO’s in the office hallways. It was a tense time with the pressure squarely on the industry.

Advertising metrics are there for us to customise against what a client wants to achieve for their business. We should be taking a closer look at what our clients want to achieve and use the trusted metrics that have held the industry in good stead to determine if what we are doing is working and give an honest picture.

With all this reflection on the year in mind, let me tell you my New (advertising) Year's resolution.

Let’s go right back to basics. Let’s park the new shiny distractions (for now), consider advertising's function in the context of our environment, and create campaigns that make lives easier, better and more enjoyable. Brand equity, lifetime value, insight-led creative, impactful media and a focus on results.

That isn’t to be dismissive of everything I just mentioned, it is all important and interesting stuff but let it prove itself first and in the meantime, let’s really concentrate on the principles that work and have and continue to work for the last seventy years.

Forget about how we shoehorn the latest and greatest trends in technology to impress clients and win awards. Instead, let’s concentrate on delivering great campaigns and inspiring creative communicated through the tools that we know will work.

The good news if you are reading this is, at Ardmore, we do just that for every Client.

Happy 2018!

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