Is advertising art?

About once a week I ran a focus group for various reasons. Sometimes its to explore an advertising concept. The traditional creative view of this is that advertising testing is a destroyer of great ideas. A softening of this view is that research should be used for concept development. Actually, I don’t overly object to testing advertising concepts. In fact, what I find really interesting is that creatives often like to sit in on the groups because they see how people really react to their work. And creatives like a novelist or a screenwriter creates work for their publics.

I was in the pub the other night for a quick beer with a couple of creatives that I work with and the discussion was based around is what we do art or is what we do to sell stuff. Interestingly it was the creatives that were debating this thought. But then what is art anyway.

I argued for the art side. Because what we’re doing is trying to create something that’s of value in people’s lives and that becomes a vehicle for the selling message. This is an extension of the somewhat cynical idea that advertising needs to be entertaining because people will be more receptive to the advertising message when their entertained.

People involved in marketing can be a cynical bunch, but when they’re not they’re often passionate about the value of their product or service to the public. If what we’re offering in a communication is intrinsically of value then the product or service will have offered the communication of itself for people to have. And that may predispose them to consume something offered by the brand that has a monetary value to it.

At its simplest a brand communication may make you feel good about yourself. What else can that brand do that will make you feel good about yourself? As I see it this is one of the futures of our industry that puts human worth back into the equation.

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