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Another useful and interesting guest article on the history of Advertising!

<p. By Mark Tungate; Author of


The big, traditional advertising agency networks are all grappling with a new universe. In 2006, French group Publicis launched a unit called Denuo that brought together a group of marketing futurists to analyze the possibilities of video games, viral marketing and all the other new advertising avenues opening up to clients. Then in 2007 Publicis paid $1.3 billion for online marketer Digitas. Group boss Maurice Levy said the purchase reflected the fact that online advertising would soon represent 10 percent of total spend.

Rival French group Havas has also been gazing into the crystal ball, putting media at the heart of the creative process. “Strategic planners, media planners, creative and production people literally work side by side,” says creative director Remi Babinet. “Today the vital questions for brands in terms of reaching consumers are: ‘where, when and how?’ And these are media questions. Content in the wrong context is stripped of meaning. If you write a magnificent love poem and recite it aloud below the wrong person’s window at five in the morning, you won’t get the desired response.”

Babinet is convinced that the 30 second spot has plenty of life left in it. “Advertising agencies are the specialist of the short film. With the multiplication of screens, our expertise is likely to become even more relevant. Mobile media offer a particular opportunity, because the smaller the screens are, the more attractive short films become.”

Recently, agencies have also tentatively encouraged consumer-generated advertising – spots made by enthusiastic amateurs. An idea that stemmed from YouTube and similar sites. The 2006 Superbowl was the first to feature a clutch of homemade ads. If anything, the results demonstrated that professional craft skills deliver more engaging advertising – although it was great PR for the brands.

Andrew Robertson, the worldwide CEO of BBDO is enthusiastic about technology. “If I could have carried my entire record collection around with me when I was a teenager, I would have done,” he says. “Today that’s no problem. What consumers want is access to everything, all the time. They don’t even have to pay for it: you can download a two hour movie for less than the price of a postage stamp. On the one hand, that’s the biggest threat to us as an industry, because people are no longer waiting around to hear what we’ve got to say. The opportunity is that if you can create content that’s good enough, you can obtain face time with consumers that money can’t buy. Not only will they watch it, but thanks to the wonders of ‘word of mouse’, they’ll encourage others to watch it too.”

The most awe-inspiring medium in the world is rendered banal by content that lacks magic. For advertising agencies then, the question is the same as it ever was: what’s the big idea?

Mark Tungate is a British journalist based in Paris, specializing in media, marketing and communication. He is the author of the best-selling Fashion Brands (also published by Kogan Page). He is a regular correspondent for the advertising industry journal Campaign and writes a weekly column for the French marketing magazine Stratégies. Mark writes regularly about advertising, style and culture, and his work has appeared in The Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers. He also contributes to the trend forecasting service Worth Global Style Network ( He writes the text for The Epica Book, an annual review of the best European advertising, and is the co-presenter of a weekly French TV show about advertising