Plato did say that, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” That’s also the common belief of the advertising industry. It’s why upstart agencies often steal that big account from the behemoths and was also echoed in the papers of Ad Age way back in 1932:
“More than one advertising executive has publicly acknowledged his debt to the Depression, admitting that it was not until the pressure of necessity exerted itself that he really found out how to get 100 cents’ worth of value from the expenditure of every advertising dollar.”
Once again, agencies are dealing with smaller budgets, greater demand to improve the bottom line and hopefully, a surge in creativity. It’s 1929 all over again. As Bradley Johnson, Advertising Age director of data analytics, told USA Today there is a silver, sliver of a lining. “The Depression ‘was a horrific time, yet consumers still consumed, advertisers still advertised and commerce went on.’”
Does this mean that advertising will quit the irreverent prose a la the Seinfeld/Gates ads and make campaigns that are more aligned with more basic ideas of advertising such as Rosser Reeves’ Unique Selling Principles? As a refresher course, those principles include the ideas that:
- Each ad must make a proposition: “Buy this product and you get these benefits”.
- The proposition must be unique: something that your competitors do not, cannot or will not offer.
- The proposition must sell: it must be something prospects really want; it pulls them over to your product.
Does it all go back to basics when the bottom falls out and consumers are looking for value on the dollar? If you ask Sean Puffy Combs he’d say no,, but it’ll be interesting to see if the message changes to more utilitarian slogans as we begrudgingly head into a very rough 2009.