Maybe it’s the heat, but some recent commentary has got a bit carried away when interpreting what certain wins at Cannes portend for TV. The successes of the fantastic Obama campaign and Tribal DDB’s brilliant ‘Carousel’ – an online film for Philips TVs – have got some a little over-excited.
There is a small but noisy contingent desperate to prolong a TV versus internet polemic; so when what is effectively an online TV ad wins at Cannes they absurdly pronounce the death of TV advertising, much as they announced that online advertising can’t be working when Google started using TV to promote Chrome.
Away from the theorists and bloggers, in the real world brands are just getting on and finding out what works best for them. Increasing numbers are realizing that the combination of TV with online activity is really rather good – not least many online brands – and the Obama campaign is one of these. After Obama’s success there was an unseemly rush of media claiming credit for it, but few wrote about TV’s contribution.
So, saying more that I could hope to and not having the burden of being expected to say it, it is worth listening to David Plouffe, the brains behind the Obama campaign. His measured words help cut through any apocalyptic froth. Talking about the Cannes success he said: “It is fashionable to suggest that TV ads are less and less important, but we needed to have balance, and they were incredibly important to the campaign.”
I would add that it wasn’t just TV ads, but TV appearances, live broadcast debates and speeches plus events and rallies that inspired people to believe in Obama and make them want to interact with him and his campaign online and in person. Plouffe values the relationship that TV can start but sees that the most effective ad campaigns of all are integrated. Those celebrating the Obama campaign’s intelligent internet-ness are right to, but they must also acknowledge its terrific TV-ness, otherwise they risk missing a vital engine that made it work. Just as Democrats worked together to win, so do media.
Plouffe made some interesting points about how they used TV advertising; they wanted the reach and emotional connection of TV but opted for longer 2 minute ads, thereby sacrificing frequency for depth. In the final week they bought a whole half-hour slot. Maybe this is something that other brands can learn from.
As Plouffe does, let’s understand and acknowledge the contribution that every aspect of the marketing mix makes, let’s stop – sometimes willfully – confusing accountability with effectiveness, and let’s not get so overheated about false dawns.