Is There Still Innovation in Marketing?

By Jeff Bowman

Is it possible that all forms of innovation in marketing will eventually come to a grinding halt? When will the ideas stop, or in some cases when will innovative thinking be challenged enough on any front that creativity will cease and companies will choose to do something dull and mundane but tried and true in generating results.

Let me explain what I am talking about.  There are two main fronts of innovation that I consider to be critical in marketing.  The first is the creative front which would include those brilliant ideas, slogans, pictures etc which make up a great promotional piece.  The second is the technology front or what I prefer to call the delivery method. Even the most brilliant creative marketing concept will remain forever a mystery to the masses, if there is no delivery process to bring it to the forefront.

Technology has totally changed the marketing process, what with electronic media, Facebook to spread opinions, YouTube to spread viral messages and cell phone apps that can tell you product specs and sale prices of stores within a five-minute drive from wherever you are.  You can’t be anywhere anymore it seems without having some form of marketing or intrusive messaging beeping you, flashing in your face, tweeted on your device.

Today the big thinkers have developed ways of creating billboards that show you one thing, but if you snap it on your cell phone, show you another.  Stores can notify you of sales as you walk by them, and the pressure of peers to view, listen or meet is unmatched.  Cool can last for mere seconds in this day and age. Where will all this lead, and at what point will privacy and security factors outweigh innovation?

On the creative side, I must admit that in some areas we have become more permissive as to what images and messages are acceptable.  I grew up in the sixties when images  of Fred Flintstone smoking, and wives  dressed in Sunday best cooking and cleaning and other blatant sexual or discriminatory marketing tactics were  acceptable means of promoting a product.

Innovation occurred as attitudes began to morph and ideology changed. It’s difficult to determine if we have become more acceptable or less tolerant of creative marketing. In many ways there has been a complete reversal. We seem to accept things like nudity in ads today but will fight against portrayal of stereotypes. Targeting adults with well produced marketing campaigns for beer is okay, but targeting kids with friendly animals and characters is a violation of the parental rights to be parents!

Therein lies the rub. We are at a stage where proliferation of messages is rampant through ever- changing technology, so getting people to hear or see the marketing has become relatively easy.  On the reverse side, we have come to place where we accept that everyone has an undeniable right to find something offensive and have it removed from public viewing or launch a nationwide Facebook campaign against the company that put it out. In marketing circles, it is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t!

In my mind marketing is at a point where innovation will die from the disease of apathy, creating something that won’t offend anyone in order to satisfy the few who make a career out of being offended, and letting everyone else know about it. As a creative marketer, that really offends me!

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Filed under advertising, Branding, Innovation, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, Media, Online marketing

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