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22/10/2009 - par Mark Tungate (tungateinparis@hotmail.com)

At the Golden Drum advertising festival in Slovenia last week, there were a lot of debates about the decline of TV advertising, the end of mass, the digital future and all the other things media people talk about when they get together these days. Among all these familiar subjects, one struck me as particularly interesting: the death of national identity.
One of the joys of going to Golden Drum is that it's the festival of the New Europe. It means you get to meet interesting people from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Baltic States, the Balkans, Russia, even Turkey and Lebanon (did I forget anyone?). They all have exotic accents and dress in subtly different ways. But it's difficult to detect these differences in their advertising.
As TBWA Berlin's Kurt-Georg Dieckert pointed out, art direction seems to have become globalized to the point of blandness. Looking at the Golden Drum print entries, I agreed that they could have come from anywhere. Where were the Polish melancholy, the Hungarian poetry, the Russian pride and the Czech surrealism? Instead, many of the entries looked like pale versions of work we'd already seen in Cannes. How much French advertising, too, looks distinctively French? Perhaps we need to reopen our archives in order to find a unique voice.

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