Advertising In the Age of Peak Oil

March 22, 2007 at 4:31 pm 5 comments

Long Tail economy - the riddle has been solved

Some of you may know that I work in advertising, the 74 Billion dollar-per-year industry with the duty to modify the behavior of “consumers” (I hate that word), peddling plastic thingamajigs, and generally contributing to the downfall of the planet. *Note to my bosses: The big money is now in SAVING THE PLANET. We should get on that right away.* With predictions of Peak Oil and global warming beginning to swing a baseball bat and knock heads around, I thought I would talk about changes occurring in advertising.

Advertising is in a flux. People are tuning out marketing messages and are taking back control of their minds through technology. Now it’s what YOU want, when YOU want it, courtesy of the Internet. As energy prices increase, businesses are seeing their costs rise, which makes them nervous. Add in that people are financing their purchases with the hopes they can keep their jobs or somehow pay off that credit card, and businesses sense something’s up.

Nevermind the fact that it’s not just the advertising messages that need to change, but the entire business and monetary system as it is presently tied to energy. Instead of ordering so many new cars for the lot, car dealers could be investing in biofuels facilities to ensure a fuel source for all the vroom vrooms they want to sell. And since margins are shrinking, businesses are desperate for ideas that go beyond the ‘old’ advertising. Instead of simple branding, they mostly want to beef their sales back up. That’s why with all the buzz buzz buzz about Web 2.0, they are throwing more money into the electronic advertising bucket. The questions is… what marketing lures work these days? Here are a few givens as the Long Tail Economy kicks into gear:

Sex will always sell.
sex

Hope usually sells.
Hope

I don’t have the inclination to dissect video, e-mail, search engines and all the other variables involved (Unless you are an investor and want to sign an NDA), but here’s a friendly note to you “creative” punks playing pinball and ping-pong in those open air agency offices… you had better start getting hip to the shit, or you’ll be busy creatively begging for food rather than thinking of neato ways to sell twinkies in whatever media channel of choice.

For instance, a few weeks ago I presented to a bunch of businesses and ad agencies about the changing consumer and technology landscape. I told them about the way TV, Radio and Print are all morphing in the same chrysalis, and we are all emerging as a hybrid-butterfly into a harsher world than the previous incarnation had to deal with. When I brought up the idea of giving carbon credits with any car purchase, I would have thought they would be on it by now. Not so.

And so we as marketers MUST understand the change. Change in the value of money. Change in the way people buy things. Change in the way people are able to pay for things. Change, change, change. But the problem with moving forward and saving the planet comes in when people and institutions “cling” to the old model. Fighting tooth and nail to hang onto what was, rather than moving forward. The funny thing, in advertising anyway, is that it’s the old-schoolers that refuse to change, and it’s the young media folks that are leading it. Yet the old-schoolers have the money, and don’t want to hear that their business model is screwed. They don’t like hearing that growth may not be possible, and the writing is on the wall, the stall, and anywhere their eyeballs look. They are clinging like barnacles to denial or ignorance of reality.

And clinging to old business models means many, many businesses are in the deepest of shit. Especially when the first oil shocks hit.

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Entry filed under: Advertising, Peak Oil, Videos. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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