Monday, August 06, 2007

Me and my 12 formats

Look, I enjoyed Seth Stevenson's "There Are 12 Kinds of Ads in the World" as much as anyone. It's well done and his examples are smart. I just don't know if he truly delivers on the second half of the article's title -- "Resist Them All!" -- or if that's even a promise that needs to be made. Here is his way of helping everyone resist (and I quote in full): "To me, the 12 formats serve equally well as a weapon of defense for the consumer under assault from endless advertising messages. It's like learning how a magic trick works: Once the secret's revealed, the trick loses all its power." Hmm. I think consumers already have an excellent defense against "endless advertising messages." It's called tuning out. No one needs to resist anything because no one can even recall anything.

The resistance message seems tacked on doesn't it? Especially when you read Stevenson's follow-up online chat with a reader who asks, "'I've tried to resist ads my whole life, but I can't do it. How can I resist like you?' Seth Stevenson: "I don't think I've put up a very effective resistance.'" Ooookay. Maybe the "trick" isn't in the format but in the execution -- or, as Stevenson calls it "the artistry." This is my favorite part: "to completely ignore the artistry and humor of ads is silly—sometimes an ad can be downright brilliant, and stick in the popular imagination for decades, regardless of how effective it was. That may not be much solace for the company behind the product, but it adds a little sunshine into the TV viewer's life. It's worth noting that and handing out kudos where they're due."

So go ahead: resist! Unless you're having fun.

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