Jeff Jarvis thinks advertising is failure. What do you think?

This talk by Jeff Jarvis on the future of marketing and advertising was made at the recent Brite Conference at Columbia Business School.  It’s well worth the 21 minute investment to watch it.

Jarvis’s central thought is that advertising is failure.  It’s merely an inadequate replacement for what should be an ongoing exchange between the people running companies and the people that buy those companies’ products and services.  In an online world where new social media technologies are enabling these direct conversations to happen, Jarvis asks a fundamental question:  Will advertising, as “middleman,” still have a role to play?

I think it will, and Jarvis at the end of his talk essentially acknowledges that it will.  But it does make you imagine that what will serve brands better in future is less what we think of as advertising, and more about simply spreading the word to people who care.  It will depend upon connected consumers to pass messages along, which in turn will place a greater premium than in the past on messages that are engaging and entertaining through great stories, or interactivity, or elements of gaming, or who knows what.  And encouraging consumers to mash-up and modify the content in order to give it their personal spin.

I think there will continue to be a role for advertising, but its role will change, and with it, the nature of advertising itself.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Jeff Jarvis thinks advertising is failure. What do you think?

  1. Steve,
    Tks for sharing this. I simply love Jeff’s comment that in the future (& now) the Product becomes your advertising and your customers become your ad agency. We really do see this happening with so many brands today. The world is changing & it is fascinating to watch it all…
    –Ryan

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  4. Dan

    Although he does make a nice soundbite point now and then, for instance in “What Would Google D0?”, Jarvis’ main point (slash tirade) is crap. You can influence people in so many ways and “social media”, a.k.a people talking to people, is just one of them. To think that it’s the only way forward is simply extremely myopic. I love the net and everything that comes with it but there are other, much more effecient and effective tools to influence people, depending on the context, brand and challenge/problem. And to think that every company out there will all of a sudden have “unique” products that people will crave talking about is ridiculous. Also, why would people suddenly want to be constantly active, interacting with and talking about brands and companies? ( More on that subject: http://danlandin.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/the-seven-digital-sins-of-planning/ )

    Social media “gurus” need to wake up and realize the world isn’t as black and white as they need it to be for them to have their 15 minutes. There’s no “new” and “old”, there’s simply good and bad. Once the hype is over, that will become wonderfully evident.

  5. Stephen Rothman

    Couldn’t agree more, Dan, and I have written on many occasions on this blog that we are living in an “and/and” world when it comes to engaging with consumers. Still, there is no denying that social media is enabling new and richer ways for brands and their buyers to engage, as my post from today about General Mills’ ventures in this area indicated.

  6. Dan

    Hey Stephen,

    Nice to “talk” to you. Sorry for sounding like a grumpy old fart in my last comment. I’m not THAT old and not THAT grumpy, trust me.

    It’s just that I was introduced to your blog through this post and since I already held a grudge with Mr Jarvis (a very one-sided one, since he doesn’t know I exist) I kind of went off. Now that I’ve read your post on General Mills I’m in a much happier mood :)

    Thanks for being out there and posting interesting stuff!

    Take care,
    Dan

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