“The whole goal here is to blur the line between content and advertising message,” said Hank Close, president for ad sales at MTV Networks.”
Listening to a media-sales executive exult that his network’s goal is to completely blur the distinction between content and advertising is like listening to a tobacco-industry executive talking about how cigarettes are nothing more than an optimized nicotine-delivery system.
The difference is, the tobacco guys were talking behind closed doors. This guy’s Tourette’s-like outburst was freely directed at the press.
Every time the firewall between advertising and content is torn down, it ends in tears.
The GEICO cavemen kicked ass in commercials. Advance sneak peaks at the TV series suggest it won’t last 2 weeks. Ham-fisted product placement eventually made series like “The Apprentice” and “Queer Eye” unwatchable. Ad guy Brian Tierney’s takeover of the Philadelphia Enquirer is headed down the same dead-end street.
The same technology that empowers viewers to fastforward past crap commercials also lets them post the good ones on YouTube and leverage the client’s media buy by orders of magnitude. The challenge, Mr. Close, is not to pollute content with badly disguised ad messaging, but to make ads that merit watching.