Kill Your Television – as those poets and philosophers, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin once sang. And surely they were right. There can surely be no place in the modern, mobile-first, digitally enhanced, tablet strategy’d, eCRM world for the 30” spot.

TV advertising is dead, right? WRONG. And you literally couldn’t be wronger.

Here is the kicker.  TV ads are amazing. Genuinely. They are the past, present and certainly a massive part of the future of what we do. There are a few reasons for this that are blindingly obvious and, despite the industry trying to talk itself out of it, they are here to stay.

I was told on my first day in advertising in June 1995 that telly ads were dead. But it seems that every piece of data would tell you precisely the opposite. We know for a fact that we’re watching more telly than we were a decade ago, we know TV ads are unbeatable for scale and reach and we know from all the studies available about TV’s unarguable payback impact. Every study from Brainjuicer to Binet will tell you how much we love telly ads as a set of humans – and why they’re so impactful as a result. Leaving that aside the two screening world has led to a Ben Affleck-style (Gigli to Argo) renaissance in the power of TV. The web has made the future of TV ads secure, not the other way around. And what are we tweeting about left, right and centre? Telly.

Here’s the thing. People – real people, I mean, not ad industry people – love telly ads.
I’ve never been to a dinner party where someone has said “I’ll tell you my favourite mobile re-targeting strategy” or “I saw this amazing eCRM programme the other day”. Once in a blue moon someone will tell you about an amazing HTML5 experience they saw – but only if the dinner party happens to be in Hoxton. But if I tell anyone that I work in advertising I get an instant barrage of telly ads they love, loath or just want to talk about.

Oh, and I’ve yet to see the pitch for the pilot of “Tarrant on Shelf Wobblers”.

The strangest bit about all this for me is why in the industry we’re all so embarrassed by the awesomeness of telly ads. We’ve fallen over ourselves to invent ridiculous euphemisms for TV ads so we can pretend we’re not making them. “Content”, “A/V”, “Broadcast”, “Film”, “Filmic assets” – they’ve all basically become proxies for telly ads (on the internet). Or euphemisms for us pretending that telly ads aren’t what we love, what clients love, what the public love and what define agencies reputations (because they do and they always have).

Adam & Eve are killing it right now in the ad world. Why? It started with John Lewis and went from there. Wieden? Ponies and Butter. That’s what clients are going there for. Grey? McVities. AMV? Sainsbury’s. Like or not, but the strength of an agencies’ TV reel is still the start and finish of their commercial reputation. Fact. Show me a top 50 agency in the UK that is currently “smashing it” off the back of their hanging banner reputation.

So many of the “digital” case study darlings as well – from Dove to Coke to Old Spice – were basically just amplifications of great telly adverts (“I’m on a Horse”, “Happiness Factory”, “Evolution”).

Clients love telly. Agencies love telly and, more importantly, punters love telly.

And loving TV advertising doesn’t mean that you don’t love or embrace digital thinking. Any more than loving fish means that you have to hate steak. My waistline will prove to you that it’s possible just to love food.

I might be wrong. But I bet you any money that regardless of ROI data that this year’s New Years Eve scheduling doesn’t feature a programme on ITV called ‘Britain’s Top 20 Mailpacks”.

This article appeared in Marketing Week

Kevin Chesters – Executive Planning Director at mcgarrybowen.

Follow Kevin on twitter @hairychesters

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