I think that, generally speaking, the creative quality of advertising these days has to be approaching an all time nadir. This concerns me as someone whose career started in the agency business and as someone who is still hanging on to the lofty ideals and ambitions that made advertising an interesting profession in the first place. I think one of the many reasons that the quality of the advertising “product” has tanked (and let’s be honest, it’s bad—most commercials are terrible) is that technological advancements have made it easier than ever for creative people to copy each other. Given that one of the primary purposes of advertising is to differentiate the product, sameness is the equivalent of badness, in my book.
One of seemingly a million examples of the copycat scourge is the trend of using musical tracks of really trite, nauseatingly and self-consciously cute coffee-house type singers. It’s a whole genre now, and for some reason agency creatives seem to be looking for any and all opportunities to work it into their product (I first blogged on this last year, begging advertisers to stop using music by Feist or the scores of bad Feist knock-off acts). Most recently, we’ve seen a couple of campaigns obviously knocking off the signature tone and style of Ellen Page and that other guy in the movie Juno, as odd as that may be. I liked Juno, and the Page act had some real novelty and authenticity to it, but please, people, can’t we come up with something else? And can we call an armistice on the battle to out-cute one another?
Anyway, for a prime recent example of how the creative community is drowning in its own backwash, first check out this clip from Juno: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBDbUVXXp-U
Now, check out the new megabucks campaign launching Truvia, delivered in the obviously identical style, all the way down to the monotone singing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzsTU60egf4
And Comcast is on the game too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGflGJ8nuW8
And wow, the creative director on the Comcast account must have REALLY liked Juno, because the animated visual style is also (ahem) “borrowed” from the official Juno video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20PQBtyfNZY
Depressing. Whatever happened to original thought? Of course creative people have been ripping each other off forever. And of course, every great creator is influenced by someone or something, and invariably those influences show up in the work. I’m just respectfully submitting that the advertising industry needs to go back to its drive for originality.