Random Thoughts About Advertising

I’ve always said that America’s biggest export was it’s culture. Having spent the majority of my childhood overseas, this is abundantly apparent. Some people would even argue that our culture is our biggest asset. Which is why the field of marketing and advertising has always fascinated me.

When the Internet was in its infancy (is it still?), the first people to embrace it were the scientists and scholars. They saw it as a beneficial tool for their studies and used it as such. And when the Graphical User Interface (GUI) was morphed on top of the TCP/IP packets that make up the Internet, the advertising profession all of a sudden gained a large interest. They immediately saw the potential for reaching a broader audience and getting their client’s advertising message across to more people, yet in a different medium.

But has it gone too far? Why do you think Bill Gates and Microsoft want to control the web browser market? Because they are smart enough to see that the browser is essentially the next level of communication; advertising, culture and all.

Which brings me back to why I love advertising. One of the most powerful tools in any advertising professional’s belt is the idea of humor, or making people laugh. Take a moment and think about all the TV commercials you’ve seen over the past week. How many of them are based on humor? Did any of them make you laugh? Which ones do you remember? If you are like most people, you will remember the funny ones.

Every year, the advertising industry comes to a screeching halt on the third Sunday of January. That’s when we all park ourselves in front of the TV and put a fresh tape in the VCR. To watch commercials. Yes, commercials. Super Bowl Sunday, for years, has been the most expensive advertising time of them all. All the big agencies (and the small ones, too) pay close attention to what campaigns get launched, which ones get renewed and and which ones drop the ball. Was that commercial funny enough? Did it get the message across to the consumer? For many young advertising professionals, Super Bowl Sunday is the one day of the year that they are required to watch television.

Bill Gates is a very smart man. Once a year, he locks himself into a room in a hideaway retreat with all of the books he hadn’t had time to read, and he reads them all. Like myself (and many of you), Bill Gates is an information junkie and thrives off of new ideas and new concepts. When the Internet came along, he almost missed it. But as soon as he saw the potential, he pounced, and now we have the most powerful man in the world trying to tell us what we should do with our computers. That, in itself, is why many many people hate him and his company. But, we also admire him for his genius. Is it possible to hate someone and love someone at the same time? Do these feelings keep canceling each other out?

Bill Gates understands that the Internet is to the 1990’s as television was to the 1940’s and 1950’s. Look at how big the television industry has grown in less than 50 years. How big do you think the Internet will be 50 years from now? The Internet as we know it less than 5 years old right now. The possibilities are staggering. Why else do you think Bill Gates wants to have a monopoly over the web browser market.

Posted by Cameron Barrett at January 21, 1998 11:59 PM

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