Have Ads Become Too Clever?

July 22, 2021

In a world awash with hard-working creatives plunged in hyper-creative environments, has our advertising started to become too clever? 

It was bound to happen at some point wasn’t it? In the past 30 years, the global advertising industry has been graced by some incredible minds with even more fascinating ideas. But there’s no doubt that creative departments can sometimes often lose their strategic focus.

The centre of attention seems to be on creating award winning campaigns and vying for a Cannes Lion, culminating in a somewhat lousy culture of competitiveness. It has bred a habit of agencies continually trying to top one another and create work with as much psychedelic pizazz as possible. Undeniably, the pressure from brands wanting to appear as ultra-hip and tech heavy hasn’t helped this cause.

But all of this beggars the question if agency land has started to produce work that is self-serving. And has the work become so out-of-this world creative that it doesn’t connect with the regular consumer.

Don't get me wrong, I’m strong in the belief that there's always a huge place for disruptive creativity and challenging the norms of advertising but strengthening the egos of creative directors shouldn’t be the main focus here.

When I think of the ads that have garnered great reception and massive brand impact, it’s been simple ideas that have nailed a true insight. Think AAMI’s “Rhonda and Ketut” storyline and the plight of middle class Australians heading to the beaches of Seminyak. Or the incredibly funny “Magic Salad Plate” campaign by Four n Twenty and the struggle of the quintessential tradie wanting to appear healthy. https://campaignbrief.com/clems-melbourne-creates-magic/

These weren’t mind blowingly, unbelievable creative campaigns but amazingly honest insights that were executed brilliantly.

By being too clever and agencies being self-serving, you face the proposition of alienating your main audience. And when you're trying to market to consumers, can there really be anything worse? 

In my eyes, the main effect of great advertising is truly connecting with an audience. This advertising makes people feel and makes people think. But at some point along the way, I believe the industry has pushed the thinking aspect too far. Rather than communicating a message in a clever way, being clever has become the idea. 

From TVC to the digital space, it seems as if it’s littered with ads that've been made for advertising creatives. And if this trend continues, you’ll lose your audience. And if audiences are continually lost, you can be assured the industry is going to be in for one hell of a storm.

Don’t be shy.

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