Advertising has always tried to copy entertainment. It appears in the same places, plays by the same general rules, and since we’re living in a golden age for the arts, the creative premium for advertising has never been higher. The subtlety of the best now often escapes easy description, playing with tone, feel, pacing and irony in ways out of reach for the majority of work. Ideas that sounded great on paper, when filtered through the inevitable compromise and committee, can easily be rendered gauche and bland.
It wasn’t always this way. Back in the day when the bulk of our entertainment came from four grainy channels and dog-eared Dick Francis novels, we were pretty easy to impress. This made marketing quite a bit easier, since we were all capable of producing something that could command forgiving attention spans.
But now we’re spoiled. Our exposure to intricate and plentiful expanses of content has chiselled our palates to a level of discernment that feels distaste at even the tiniest misstep or incongruence.
Applying this discernment to advertising (and why wouldn’t we, it invites the comparison), has produced the highest absolute quality of work we’ve ever seen, but simultaneously the lowest ever relative quality in comparison to the public’s standards and tastes.
How can brands survive this situation?