The only metric that matters in advertising
I was recently invited to speak on Bloomberg TV about the final episode of Mad Men. The topic of the conversation centered on the famous Coca-Cola commercial, Hilltop, featured in the show. The question we debated was would the spot have the same impact today that it did 35 years ago. Would it work?
Putting aside the production values, my response was immediate. The soul of the commercial, its purpose and the message behind it are more relevant to advertisers today than ever before. Creating work with purpose, with meaning – work that makes the world a better place, even if just for a moment – is the new metric.
We saw it in the Coke commercial – and we’re seeing it on the jury panels of advertising award shows. The days of rolling out a long list of statistics to “prove” something “worked” are over. The proof is in the impact. Because impact only ripples through culture when there’s purpose behind it.
The post-internet age meets the post-reach age
When others talk of the post-internet age, they often discuss the rise of the smart phone, mesh networks and standalone systems characterized by decentralization. However the real impact of the post-internet age will be the role of the consumer within this digital ecosystem.
For the first time ever, we will only be talking to customers born into a digital world. These digital natives won’t just control every conversation they engage in, but they will actually control the messaging itself. And by activating their local networks, these groups have the ability to become powerful media channels in their own right.
Not surprisingly media is transforming itself to catch up. Mostly to harness this consumer’s new power – one based in their ability to reach and go well beyond where a brand is allowed to go. The traditional methodology, that dollars equal reach, will no longer be valid. More and more we’re seeing messages grounded in problem solving – to fulfill the promise of a better world and make an actual impact on those consumers who are now in charge. Transitioning from the post-internet age to the post-reach age.
Right back where we started
The brands that embrace this will see their brands elevated, adopted and adored. So where’s the proof? Let’s go right back to that Coke commercial. Back in the 60s it was rare to see anyone but a Caucasian person in an ad. Coke scrapped that rule because Coke wasn’t selling Coke. It was showing us a glimpse of a world without barriers – one that celebrated inclusion. It was showing us all a better world. That commercial wasn’t targeting eyeballs. It was targeting something much larger.
And it paid off in real dollars too. Coke went on to take the lead in the marketplace – and created what many consider the best television commercial of all time. Proof that when you focus on the metric that really matters, all the other numbers take care of themselves.
Jason Musante is the managing director and group executive creative director of Havas Worldwide. He tweets @jasonmusante