Page 46 - Foxtalk Winter 2012

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Winter 2012
Forming the Foundation
Professor Kathleen Boyle-Labarbera considers
the future of advertising and how our students figure in
f I was to be completely honest
I would have to admit that
I am a little envious of our advertising and public relations
students. And it is not for the obvious reasons, like the fact
that these twentysomethings get to see a wrinkle-free smile
in the mirror or can jump out of bed without fear of pulling a
It is because they are entering into the industry at the perfect
time to be the creators of its future. This industry is expand-
ing and evolving. The disciplines are mixing and merging. The
handful of experts has become an assem-
bly of people with both knowledge and
an opinion about where this advertising/
public relations/marketing phenomenon
is headed. The thing of it is though, right
now, no one knows. It is a wide open road
that can be driven on by anyone. If you
are smart, hardworking and have a vision,
you can be one of the people leading the
caravan. This idea is both incredibly excit-
ing and slightly frightening.
In my early days as a lowly advertising
executive, things were much simpler. I
was working for Ogilvy—one of the big
guys—in their direct marketing company,
OgilvyOne. My job was pretty clear. I
was responsible for managing the develop-
ment of the direct response advertising
elements for my client, IBM software.
While it wasn’t easy work, it was fairly
straightforward. Ogilvy & Mather, the
brand agency, came up with the “Big Idea” that drove the brand
strategy. Then they picked up the phone, called us and said, “We
need a couple of direct mail pieces, a few banners and a landing
page to go with our grand campaign.” And we cranked out the
work. We all knew our place in the advertising hierarchy. There
was structure, boundaries and clearly defined roles. We worked
in our own little silos and didn’t venture outside them.
It wasn’t long though before things began to change. Our
clients became increasingly unhappy with this old advertising
model. They didn’t want to deal with a bunch of different agency
people working in silos, all with different agendas and objectives.
It made them feel like we were pushing our own disciplines as
opposed to helping them solve their business and marketing prob-
lems. We were also unhappy with the old model. It kept us from
producing the best work and really partnering with our clients to
grow their businesses.
It was at this point you started hearing phrases like “integrated
marketing,” “customer relationships,” “360-degree branding.”
We were challenged to step out of our silos and work together to
create campaigns that incorporated every touchpoint between the
brand and its customers. This meant all the marketing elements
were involved—advertising, public relations, direct marketing,
sales promotion and many others. We even heard rumblings that
the ever elusive “big idea” did not solely belong in the purview
of the general Brand Agency. Anyone
and everyone has the right, opportunity
and potential to come up with the one
monster idea that will move the client’s
business forward.
At first change happened slowly. But
as the digital world exploded, so did the
marketing model. And it exploded in
many pieces. Media fragmented and be-
came a huge player because that is where
all things new and exciting are happen-
ing. Social media in particular complete-
ly altered the landscape and elevated the
importance of public relations in the new
marketing mix. And the biggest change
was the consumers themselves. The old
model of advertisers pushing our well-
crafted promotional messages to a passive
mass audience was over. Consumers now
control when, where and how they will
interact with their favorite brands.
With the enormous amount of change came an enormous
amount of complexity. The once clearly defined advertising
world has become blurred and messy. And it is not over yet. As
new media and technology enter the scene, the new model evolves
even further. As this new model evolves, new questions emerge.
And it is our students who will be answering them. It is our
Marist advertising and public relations graduates along with other
bright, young, industry professionals who will be not only solving
the problems this new model presents, but crafting the model as
they go.
As I said, I am a little jealous that my students will be the ones
who get live and breathe and work in this new advertising world.
But I am also excited, because I get to be one of the few people
who help them form the foundation that they will need to be
those innovators, creators and builders of an industry I love.