Where have all the big ideas gone in advertising?

food cart in airstream

The shape of advertising has changed significantly in the last two decades, with the advent of digital (and associated tech advances), a desire by large corporations to in-source advertising and all things creative, to save money – and the shift by many clients away from larger, global ad networks like Ogilvy, Grey, Y&R, JWT and Saatchi & Saatchi (to name but a few) to smaller boutique shops that often align based on specialty service offerings, culture, geography, and/or lower cost structure.

At the same time, it appears that a lot of the big ideas and great campaigns in advertising have fallen by the wayside. We all remember, Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, Apple’s iconic “Get a Mac” campaign, British Airways “Face moving across the desert” ads, and who can forget Dos Equis’ campaign “The Most Interesting Man in the World”. We now must wait for Super Bowl ads that (let’s be honest) often scratch the surface compared with some of those great, iconic all-time campaigns.

The thing that’s missing for me… where are the big ideas?

I cringe every time I see an American Express ad on LinkedIn. They don’t talk to me as a business owner, and often feel like the ad agency is going through the motions… producing concept after concept, to maintain some “noise” and awareness. But they don’t move me emotionally, which is the intent of all GREAT advertising. That is after all why those black turtlenecks did so well for decades!

I’ve used AMEX as my example here as they have an AMAZING opportunity right now to execute on one of those “big ideas”, as they position themselves as the champions of small business. It’s one thing to claim that. It’s another thing to live it.

AMEX has unbelievable data in its back-pocket. They can see which small businesses have hurt the most as a direct result of the pandemic – restaurants, retail, and service businesses… many of whom were well-managed, profitable, and great customers for AMEX in the day. So, in 2022, why don’t they change the rules, and disrupt the corporate credit card space by pouring 100% of their marketing budget into small businesses, that still need a hand-up (not a hand-out) post-COVID… investing in these businesses via store improvements, kitchen upgrades, POS system upgrades, support with employee recruitment, and more. The PR value alone would give them heightened awareness. Healthier businesses generating increased revenues would ultimately contribute an ROI for the spend; and we all know that small businesses are the engine-room of the economy, so others in the ecosystem will benefit from this idea.

Would welcome any thoughts or reactions to this idea, or any other “big ideas” that you’d like to share. Drop me a line at davids@idebamarketing.com

Hope you all have a safe a safe and Happy Holidays, and here’s to a great 2022.

-David Sly, President

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