It has long since struck me that what we do as advertising agencies emulates the music business. Over the past decade band loyalists have diminished, and been replaced with screaming fans in need of a one off lyrical fix, and very few bands are able to sustain the momentum needed to make a regular income.
It is much the same with brands. Increasing levels of competition, and easier pin point entry and exit from a brands retail outlet means that getting traction with consumers is harder than ever.
What is perhaps the fallout for us as advertisers is the story we tell. The “Big Idea” was always about one creative concept that links together brand, product and media. For many of us, it is the true sense of integration.
Unfortunately today, the sheer volume of advertising makes it very difficult to tell a whole story without a mega media budget behind it. We are increasingly forced down tactical routes, exploring new ways of turning up the volume of specific ads within certain channels. It is increasingly difficult to ensure that consumers see every part of an advertising campaign. More often than not, today the big idea is actually an overly simplistic promotion with any intelligence or entertainment stripped out.
Looking over an integrated advertising plan this morning, it quickly became evident that each online banner, press insertion even Facebook ad has to play like a song, and tell the story end to end.
So do we still need the “big idea” if we don’t have control over the channels from which to launch it?
My view is yes, a “big idea” allows a brand to compose an album not whistle a tune. And in the long run, building brand equity will drive long term sustainability. The difference today is that we still start with the big idea, then work from the bottom up.