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I’m Just A Simple Copywriter But…


As someone who grew up working in traditional ad agencies before making the switch to digital about 2 years ago, I have to say I was a bit concerned after reading this article on Ad Age. Basically, it’s about a website that allows users who pay a flat fee to make their own print ads, TV commercials, and interactive campaigns—all with a simple dropdown menu.

Now, I’ll be honest: my initial response to this was, ”What a load of BS.“ Seriously, any company that wants to take the creativity out of advertising by automating it deserves what they get. But then, I reread the second to last paragraph of the article. Here’s what it said:

As with all the technological changes that are causing upheaval in the ad business, the automation of regional retail-promotion-type ads is a threat and an opportunity: a threat to all those who sell their ads by volume rather than quality, and an opportunity for anyone who would love to have a machine focus on the commodity stuff so they can concentrate on real ideas and executions that will stand out from the mediocre morass.

So, I guess what it boils down to is this. You’re only supposed to be threatened if you’re working in a hack creative shop that’s just been one-upped by a machine (touché, PC guy). After all, if you’re worth your creative salt, you should already know you’ll never do great work for volume retail ads and the quicker they get that stuff automated the better. It’s a win-win.

In my opinion, this all feels a little short-sighted.

First off, I know of countless careers in this industry that have been made/enhanced by people who not only believed they could create great ads for any client, but who actually did it.

Secondly, I don’t see why, in the age of user-generated content, we (as an industry) would want to make ourselves seem even less relevant to clients and the public in general. This doesn’t seem like a smart idea to me.

Seriously, doesn’t it already seem like anyone with a camera and $100 in editing software thinks they can make a great TV spot or viral video? Not that they have a great idea, strategy, or basic understanding of how to build, grow, and maintain a brand’s image. But, of course, they don’t need those things, as anyone can be an advertising creative (even a dropdown menu).

Finally, I think it’s a bad idea for the client. Any client. Even if that client is a small business that doesn’t have a marketing budget to speak of. Don’t believe me? Just read about the online offerings at pick-n-click:

The information superhighway can be confusing and overwhelming. With so many users and so many websites, where does one start to make an impact? Right here. We’ve looked at the internet and forged a series of focused, directed marketing strategies designed to slice through all of the online chatter. From web blasts to pop-up ads, web page sponsorships to direct dealership links, you’ll own the computer-savvy consumer.

There’s so many things wrong with this paragraph, I really don’t know where to begin… Ok, I’ll start with the fact that they used the words “information superhighway” and “computer-savvy consumer” in the same paragraph. Not to mention their ideas about online marketing come straight out of 1997.

I’m sure the argument could be made that you get what you pay for, but I for one think it’s bit scary to start automating creativity. Even if it is creativity that more than likely won’t show up in The One Show.