How Has Technology Changed Creativity In The Advertising Industry.

The advertising industry has always made optimum use of the latest technology available throughout the years. This Buzzle article chronicles advertising’s creative journey seen from the technological point of view.

Sounds a lot like the advertising of yore, doesn’t it? Of course, when we consider the person who said it, it just seems like a line out of a gospel. The dynamics in the creative sphere of the advertising world have certainly evolved, and how!

Isn’t it incredible how a glimpse of a billboard, the right-side panel of a web page, or a twelve second commercial on TV can convince us into believing that what our life lacks right now is that one product which they happen to be selling? How a jar of moisturizer can help a woman hitch the man of her dreams. How a shaving gel can help a guy get a place on the football team. Amazing isn’t it? That’s the power of creative advertising for you.

Creativity and Advertising: A Perfect Marriage

Creativity and profitability usually never see eye to eye – one wanting to push the boundaries of innovative selling concepts, the other wanting it to be restrained within the prescribed budget. So, what is it that makes them blend together and weave magic? Technology, of course!

The advertising industry has pioneered the use of technology ever since it came into being, and we’re talking about the disturbing times when a major part of ad revenue came from slave auction ads. Yes, this was probably how advertising as we now know it, was born.

A few years later, with the advent of commercial European goods into the Union, there arose this incessant need to put products “out there” where consumers could see them, and decide on buying them. A few years down the line, with the birth of competitive markets, came in the stipulation of advertising.

The Print Phase: Advertising’s Baby Steps

Print advertisement
Print space was precious – it was all about tapping the potential of newspapers. Magazines came in later, and specialty magazines followed. Now, creativity involved limiting the sales pitch within an inch-by-inch space. These ads rarely left anything to the imagination – the focus was on the product, and a solid, clear copy was always provided.

Here are a few examples…
Hold the future in your hand (Sony Television)
Colored telephones (Western Electric)
Pink is for girls (Lustre crme)

No whacky ideas were allowed here, mind you. These were the times when people read the fine print that was a part of the advertisement, attention-grabbing visuals were more the exception, rather than the rule.

I once wrote that Dove made soap “obsolete”, only to discover that the majority of housewives did not know what the word meant. I had to change it to “old-fashioned”.
– David Ogilvy

Innovation in printing brought these adverts to life, bringing them out from the last few pages to out in the front. Pages began to get glossier, and the advertisements, more vivid.

The Jingles Phase: Creativity Blossoms

Radio had a huge number of people hooked on to it, and advertisers realized its potential soon enough. The first radio commercial was aired way back in 1922, and has since steadily churned out memorable jingles one after the other. Remember this?

Hot dogs, Armour hot dogs
What kind of kids eat Armour Hot Dogs?
Fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks
Tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chickenpox
love hot dogs, Armour Dot Dogs
The dogs kids love to bite!

The popularity of radio did take a beating when televisions burst on to the scene, however, this was only temporary. Radio continues to be a bastion for some major brands as well as minor ones, attracting a wide audience, spawning all age groups.

Advertising Out in the Open: Technology Begins to Take Over
TV advertisement

Technological advancements have created the world we’re living in today, that’s brimming with commercialism. Advertisements are everywhere we look – in newspapers and magazines we read at breakfast, on the radio as we drive to work, on billboards that can’t be missed from our office windows, on coasters in bars that we frequent for an evening drink, on TV when we’re having dinner, and not to mention the inundation on the Internet. In short, advertisements are around us, every waking moment of our lives, all thanks to the technology that helps placing them there.

“It’s in our biology to trust what we see with our eyes. This makes living in a carefully edited, overproduced and photoshopped world very dangerous.”
Bren Brown

Advertisers today, see every inch of space as a canvas – be it on pavement blocks, or Facebook. It goes without saying that our world pretty much functions on advertising. Unfortunately, though, this technology-fueled advertising wagon-wheel is slowly running out of steam, and it has only itself to blame.

Was Technology the Nemesis of Creativity?

London billboards
In a short word – yes. In the eighties, with the advent of computers, the face and functions of advertising underwent a sea change. Not only did technology reform the way in which agencies created advertisements, but it also expanded the horizons for advertising.

Graphics and animation came into play; it wasn’t all about words on paper anymore. Visuals took over in a big manner, and the words were only added as an afterthought (if required). Art direction took precedence over copywriting as conceptualizing began to be more “visual”. Creativity veered in a different direction, but not before it optimized the meaning of milking the visual medium.

The biggest mistake young designers make is that they try to make their advertising look like advertising.

Advertising, as we now know it, is on a downward spiral. It is everywhere, and by that I mean in-your-face-everywhere. Fliers stuck on windshields, subway escalators, everywhere. Hell, even if you wish to download a commercial-free app, you have to pay for it.

You read it right. We’re now living in a world where advertisements have become so irksome, that we have to shell out money to get rid of them. Companies do make money through means like these. Established brands make sales, no matter what. Creativity, the poor old maiden has definitely taken a beating in this mess where any publicity is good publicity.