It begins to look as though advertising and entertainment - Madison Avenue and Hollywood - are embarking on a new adventure, not Back to the Future, but ’forward to the past.’
It begins to look as though advertising and entertainment - Madison
Avenue and Hollywood - are embarking on a new adventure, not Back to the
Future, but ’forward to the past.’
During an era now referred to as the ’Golden Age’ of television, TV
programs were each sponsored by only one company and went by titles such
as The Camel Caravan, Westinghouse’s Studio One and Ford Theater.
But this led to charges of interference by ad agencies with the creative
process and dire predictions that something called ’ratings’ would
govern which programs made it to the air and which stayed on - and, that
television would soon be selling ideas the way it sold soap. Sound
In fact, a bestselling novel of the period gave us the word
’huckster’and brought a lot of ad-biz phrases into popular currency.
’Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes,’ and ’Put it out on the
back porch and see if the cat laps it up,’ come to mind. The phrases
engendered contempt among intellectuals for advertising and public
relations that lingers still.
Now, we learn from The New York Times that ad giant J. Walter Thompson
and Hollywood production and talent ’powerhouse’ Basic Entertainment
have formed an alliance to help advertisers get into the business of
creating and marketing entertainment rather than booking commercials on
programs other people produce.
Basic Entertainment is home to stars like Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler and
Nicolas Cage, as well as shows such as The Sopranos, and Politically
Ad agency JWT handles Ford, Kellogg and Pepsi, and candor compels me to
say JWT is a Hill & Knowlton sister agency under parent WPP.
The major transformation of the media scene, of which the recent
mega-merger between AOL and Time Warner is the biggest example, is
clearly in the direction of a blurring - if not erasing - of the lines
between advertising and entertainment.
In fact, a JWT exec told the Times the agencies will be playing a far
bigger role in the ’content’ of entertainment programming than merely
providing the 30-second spots.
The amount of creative talent will be more than doubled, for some of the
best acting and scripting today is in the commercials.
And, we might well see a return to the high standards of yesteryear,
when ’hucksters’ had their hands on the creative tillers instead of
accepting a situation in which producers hope top marketers will see
something attractive in their product.
It is commercial TV after all. Run it up the flagpole; see if you can
get a digital salute