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06/04/2006 - par Mark Tungate

I've recently been reading a vintage book about advertising called The Hidden Persuaders, written by Vance Packard in 1956. And what shocks me is how little advertising has evolved since that time. Take the Chicago advertising executive quoted in the book, who says that TV should « put the audience in the frame of mind necessary to receive and remember our commercials ». Sound familiar, M. Le Lay ? Indeed, it seems that the only thing that has changed is the attitude of consumers, who are far less gullible.

When I was in London the other week, an agency boss told me that there have only been three revolutions in advertising : the invention of the printing press, the first television ad - and right now. As we've all been advertising in the same way since the Fifties, it's not surprising that agencies have been thrown into confusion by blogs, podcasts, vlogs and so on. New marketing models are being feverishly constructed as I write.

Or are they ? It was notable that the same agency boss cited viral films as the future of advertising. But films via email are just TV spots in a new medium, and I'm not convinced they are the best way of engaging consumers in the digital era. Sony recently came up with the idea of the V-CAM, or the Viewer Created Ad Message. It provides consumers with a brief for a spot through its website, and they go away and shoot it with their Sony Handycam. That's more radical. Throw out those old books, boys, and think harder.

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