Advertising Has Yet to Adapt to a Society in Flux

Article excerpt

Let us try to look forward to the advertising industry of 2014. While changing technology has the potential to affect all our lives, it is the interaction of technology and social change that will really shape the advertising industry of 20 years' time.

If we look back to 1974, the degree of change in many aspects of our lives is surprising. In Britain, we had two elections, both won by Labour, and Miss World was the third most watched programme on television -- see the table below. We had just three TV channels and ITV frequently achieved a 50% audience share. Since then, the media and much of the rest of our lives have been transformed, but the past 20 years have left the substance of marketing communication little changed.

The post-war economic, political and lifestyle consensus (mass consumption and keeping up with the Joneses) conspired with the era of mass media and branding to create a golden age for advertising. The cultural zenith of advertising, ad agencies, and TV coincided in the UK in the 60s. The impact on the collective consciousness of so many watching the same programmes at the same time reinforced the prevailing consensus about social values. Advertisers built their brands (PG Tips, Strand cigarettes, Esso, Flake) on these same values and left them embedded in popular culture.

The year that was 1974

Top ten programmes, 1974

Programme                             (millions)

1 This is Your Life (ITV)                 9.9
2 Love Thy Neighbour (ITV)                9.6
3 Miss World (BBC)                        9.1
4 Bless This House (ITV)                  9.0
5 Des O'Connor Show (ITV)                 9.0
6 Benny Hill Show (ITV)                   8.9
7 British Screen Awards (ITV)             8. …