It’s called Mediation for a reason: the debate and debacle of negotiating the future of media and communications

many readers (well, both) may very well have seen the above intriguing video from FITC, to promote their upcoming design and technology festival in New York.  its a trailer and its deliberately and wonderfully provocative, and it certainly seems to have started a degree of debate.  watch it now if you haven't already.  now.  go on.  watch it.

now consider what you're thinking.  are you angry or excited?  depressed or thrilled?  it would certainly seem that people are one or the other.  the awesome JV Willshire, who blogs at Feeding the Puppy put a post together that celebrated the thinking behind the piece:

"A point well made, I think.  And yet there will still be large parts of the industry that rail against things like this.  They don't understand why people in the industry would wilfully go around denouncing the existing models, as it will just hasten their demise.  Why would you destroy the world in which you work?"

a good question.  one that John rightly and eloquently goes on to answer:

"Every time someone questions 'the old way of doing things' (like the 'power of TV ads', or the notion of brand awareness, the established rules of campaigns or the objectives set in a brief), they're not doing it for kicks.  It's not rebellion, cynicism, or mindless annihilation.  It's only by burning away the old, redundant thinking that we can find something new, refreshed and powerful."

there's a counter post to this, a point that's equally well, if somewhat forcefully, made.  this is the ad contrarian, who blogs here:

"There is growing movement among self-hating ad people to declare failure and join the army of digital dimwits.  They have started to believe the "advertising is dead" nonsense.  They have accepted the fiction that there is a new breed of humans who don't believe anything that isn't on the web. They no longer believe that advertising is about persuasion, and think their job is to create "conversations.

Excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth.

… As far as I'm concerned these people are gutless weasels. They're too tired and weak to defend the practice of advertising. They're too effete to be heard above the volume of cackling web-monkeys."

the contrarian goes on to describe the video at the top of this post as a "piece of ignorant bullshit produced by some "design and technology" hustlers in Canada and lovingly embraced by advertising's suicidal Twitterati".  like I said, the argument is forcefully made.

what do I think?

well I'm as ready as the next "suicidal Twitterati" to denounce the broadcast interruption (or persuasion) model.  it's fragmenting, less efficient (reach does not equal effectiveness) and ignores the multitude of new opportunities the ad contrarian so quickly dismisses.

but I'm also as ready as the next optimist to celebrate the awesomeness of the broadcast interruption model.  it's capable of generating mass audiovisual reach in a way that's unparalleled by any other channel or medium and will be for a while yet to come.

which side am I on?  I'm on both of course; my blog is called Mediation for a reason.

there are no easy answers to the questions our community is asking itself.  our world is no longer black and white and arguments couldn't and shouldn't be made as such.  to do so diminishes us in a way that technology, behavioural change or new challenges never could.

the observations of Indra Nooyi of Pepsico, as reported on WARC, from earlier this week are pertinent:

"You've got to reach the consumer through multiple methods. Through digital. Through viral networks. You've got to reach them through newspapers. Through TV … You've got to deploy every possible media that you can lay your hands on … The new brand-building model has to encompass an extremely rich mix of items we have to deploy to talk to the consumer"

her point is clear.  no one is in the business of abandoning TV. but neither are we in the business of defending it against all comers and beyond all reason.  the broadcast model, the bastion of the 20th Century's marketing communications, will be with us – and used magnificently by us – for a good while to come; but it is no longer the only tool we have.  in failing to see, understand and utilise the compromise of this… in failing to Mediate, we are only failing ourselves.

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