Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Single Most Important Point

For years, virtually every creative brief in every agency had a item called the "single most important point." The one thing the ad had to communicate. It made sense, because traditional advertising is full of space limitations: 30 seconds, one page, an outdoor board with a seven word headline. But in reality, it's a strange construct. Consumers don't typically make buying decisions based on one piece of knowledge, at least not for a meaningful purchase. Rather, we buy based on an accumulation of knowledge gained over time from our own experience, product reviews, peer input and yes, advertising.

Traditional media put the advertiser and the agency in the role of editor. Our job was to decide the "single most important point" to tell the audience. That's silly. First, the audience isn't homogeneous. Second, who are we to decide? Third, sometimes the deciding factor is a seemingly minor element of the product. If we're focused only on the "single most important point," we're eliminating the opportunity to put the consumer in touch with that obscure but compelling feature.

And therein lies the beauty of the Internet. We don't have space limitations. We don't have the be the "editor" of information to the consumer. Instead, our role is to be an organizer of and participant in a dialogue with the consumer. More information is better, as long as we can provide the organization to keep it from being a jumbled mess.

As long as traditional media vehicles reach consumers, there will still be ads with a "single most important point." But new opportunities require new forms of storytelling. Good agencies will be adept at both.

1 comment:

Pinny said...

While I agree that there are space limitations in outdoor advertising, I think you left out the fact that online there is a shorter attention span, and more control over what we view, and therefore it isn't a space limitation - rather a time/attention limitation.

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