Future advertising is not advertising

Written on January 17, 2013 by Vanessa Dezem Baida in News

“Future advertising isn’t advertising”. That is how Rei Inamoto, the visionary vice president of AKQA –  an innovative and global digital agency – defines the future of the marketing and publicity industry. Speaking at the Roppongi Academy Hills, he explained how our social behavior has changed and how communication between companies and consumers will change soon in the future. The student of the IE Master in Visual Media Communication,  Masaaki Hasegawa, had the chance to interview him. Find bellow some of his perspectives.

 Rei Inamoto
Chief Creative Officer and Vice President of AKQA
Awarded the Titanium and Integrated Jury at Cannes and was named one of Creativity Magazine’s ” Creativity 50″
MH: Why  did you enter into the advertising industry?
RI: I did not enter this industry in order to make advertising.
When people asked me why you got into the advertising industry, I always answer “No I didn’t.”
I just wanted to do something creative and interesting and ended up being in this industry.
MH: What do you think about the current advertising industry?
RI: I think that there are great effective advertisements, but at the same time, a lot of advertisements turn out to be destructions of TV programs.
For example, in the US, lots of major TV programs are actually composed of great deal of advertising that accounts for half of program time. This situation is close to giving punishment to the audience that they are forced to watch commercial advertising in order to watch the programs what they really want to watch.
MH: I would like to know more about your opinion about the future of advertising. What is this idea that “Future advertising isn’t advertising”?
RI: In 80’s and 90’s, the advertising industry had a great power because TV advertising was clearly an effective way to boost the sales of products and services.
Before the digital media became popular, it was able to calculate approximate effect of advertising, and based on that data, we suggested advertising strategies to clients. However, in recent years, the traditional way of advertising, such as TV and poster, has no longer have the same effect on increasing sales like in the past. In fact, a couple of years ago, one of our clients executed TV advertising as they had done before, but it turned out later on that it was ineffective from the viewpoint of boosting sales. On the contrary, some other clients could keep their sales even after they decreased the amount of TV advertising. Plus, no matter how sophisticate you make your advertising, the advent of the social media allows consumers to share actual information about your product.  This is the basic concept behind why I think the future advertising is not advertising.
MH: In the past, information was one-way, from mass media to consumers. However, the digitalization makes it bi-directional that consumers are able to access and publish information. Do you think this trend has changed consumer’s behavior?
RI: Yes. Giving my personal example, I now do not often watch TV or read news-paper, compared with in the past, but I consume more information as contents, like reading news on mobile devices. You can reach any kinds of information whenever you want. Even it is possible to access to news when you are in a bathtub, using a mobile device, as an extreme example.
MH: It seems that consumers have become surrounded by far greater amount of commercial messages than ever before, and companies have more opportunities to promote their products and services.
RI: Yes, but I would like to emphasize that there are too much information in the current world to convey message by story-telling, which is one of major concepts of advertising. It is not as effective as before, because of the deluge of information. Now acting out the story is much more important than telling the story in order to carry messages. For example, Nike, one of the most famous sport-ware brands, published the Nike Training Club that is an app, which enables users to track their training results and guides them to further training. It has been downloaded several million times. In short, this application allows consumers to take an action as Nike insists “Just Do It” in their slogan. As this example shows, experience and behavior would be the most important keyword to promote products and service.
MH: Was it effective because Nike had already established its brand value?
RI: It is a good perspective. It is certainly true that we cannot assume the same effect with the same app produced by a small brand. For example, Instagram, which is one of the most successful photo-editing app, has become popular rapidly in recent years. However, I think that if famous brands, such as Kodak, had invented the Instagram, it would have made a revolution in the film and photography industry.
MH: You mentioned that programming is much more important than campaign. What is programing consumer’s behavior?
RI: First of all, campaign is effective but it has only short-term effect on the sales, and thus companies need to regularly execute some campaign in order to maintain such an influence on consumers. However, programming makes consumers to repeat a certain action regularly by which the campaign could have sustainable effects. Small Business Saturday, organized by American Express, is a good example. What they did was not to promote their company but to make a cyclical social behavior. They encouraged people to do shopping in local small mercantile stores, not in famous brand stores, on Saturday right after Thanksgiving that contributed to stimulating the local businesses. This is one example of programming that focuses not on appealing products but on making consumer’s behavior.
MH: You also argued that the future of digital is analog. What did you mean by that?
RI: Most importantly, it is true that the digital technology has enabled us to do many things that were physically impossible in the past, such as this online-meeting that we are doing now. However, no matter how it develops, things we can touch will not disappear from the world because we live in the three-dimensional world. Thus I think that the digital technology will change and improve the physical experience, like the 3-D printer does. I expect that the consumer will purchase products online as software and print it in their house, using a 3-D printer.


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