Tide owned the Super Bowl by spoofing typical TV ads. David Harbour, from Stranger Things, delivered the Tide punch lines perfectly. And now the ad is part of the national conversation. Just like the Budweiser Frogs and Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” ads. The Super Bowl is unique in that it still rewards creativity. The rest of the ad industry has shifted from creativity toward relevance and timing.
This week one of Seattle’s leading creative advertising agencies closed. Wexley School for Girls has been around for 15 years. The founders decided to hang it up because the nature of the advertising industry shifted from creative excellence toward analytics excellence. It’s far more important to get your message in front of the right person at the right time than it is to have great creative. And it turns out, the cost of getting analytics right can easily exceed the creative process if not the production process. This explains the rise of analytics agencies in Seattle like Add3 and Point It.
Today’s holy grail is to present an ad in a user’s Facebook feed that not only coincides with her car purchasing but displays the car she is seriously considering. That’s hard to do. Some would say more difficult than coming up with a Super Bowl commercial for Tide.
Compare web analytics with media buying, its predecessor. The former is led by quantitative people using Google Analytics or Adobe Creative Cloud. The latter was led by media buyers who picked media outlets for campaigns. Today computers do the picking for you in programmatic buys. In this way web and mobile have inverted the traditional agency where the analysts are now at the top of the organization, just above the creatives.
Creativity isn’t going away, it’s showing up in different places and in different ways like in-house marketing, product development and social media marketing. For example, Amazon’s Super Bowl ad was produced, in part, by Amazon’s in-house marketing agency, D1. Yes, Wexley is closing. Creative agencies are changing. But creativity will continue as an unstoppable force and show up in places we didn’t expect. Long live creatives.