Gas Station Art

Wisdom.Applied Wednesday: The Art of Advertising

Advertising at its best is art. Art with a purpose: to persuade, convince and, yes, perhaps even coerce a consumer into purchasing a product–to consider a brand.

All art does that. It has a story to tell, a message to convey. Perhaps it escapes the observers, but artists are always trying to say something through their medium. Often the real message is hidden in the subtext or a subtle detail.

Great advertising still has that subtlety. It tugs at your heartstrings–makes you fall in love before you even know what the product is because of the release of positive emotions based on the story. Think of Coke’s Super Bowl commercial, unless of course that moved you to racism instead of feeling good about humanity (and if that’s the case, I don’t know how to help you).

There is a song from 1969 that comes to mind when I am confronted with the assaultive advertising that is rampant in today’s technological and media saturated environment. It’s almost too pleasant of a song to be associated with such a mentally violating form of coercion. Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’” lyrics say:

“Everybody’s talking at me. I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’, only the echoes of my mind.”

George San Jose, president and chief creative officer at The San Jose Group, says it like this: “Technology has developed to such a point that we can now serve ads just about anywhere. No longer can you just pump gas and gather your thoughts for the day… No longer can a trip to the supermarket be a quiet experience. These days you hear voices from the shelves calling your attention. When was the last time you looked up anything on your computer without being bombard by pop-up windows and banner ads that blink at you?”

When my silence is suddenly broken while at the gas pump or as I stroll down the grocery aisle, I do not have warm fuzzy feelings for the brand. I feel like I am being yelled at. On my computer, advertisers are like peeping Tom’s popping up to remind me that they know who I am and what I like as demonstrated by the “spontaneous” ad scrolling just for me. It’s annoying at best–one could go so far as to call it creepy.

Where is the story? Where is the art? Where is our buy in? Brands are too often throwing away developing a relationship with the consumer. We, as consumers, are no longer a shopper to be wooed. There is no more wining and dining to swoon our attention to the brand. They want the fastest cheapest way to get the dollars out of your hand. Feels violating…

Technology is the game changer of our generation. We know that with any advancement comes unforeseen problems. We are so busy upgrading and finding the latest and greatest ways to do, well, everything that to me it just feels like everyone is talking at each other instead of to each other.

I’m old school. I want the story. I want to be wined and dined and wooed. I want to be sold if by nothing else than the subtleness of creativity behind the ad. Give me a reason to buy in for a reason other than to silence the repetitive loud assault demanding my attention. Do that, and you’ll have a loyal customer based on real connection–real satisfaction–and that makes for a good story.


Cover Photo Source: dean bertoncelj

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info] Jennifer is Director of Content & Ideation at SJG. I am convinced that every human being is innately creative – Picasso said the key is to remain childlike within the body of a responsible adult, or something along those lines. As the oldest member of this opinionated clan, I feel responsible to share a different perspective. Engage me – I love a good debate! [/author_info] [/author]