Sunday, April 5, 2020

Will the advertising industry survive the COVID-19?

Corona chocolate vintage ad from Egypt
Will advertising survive the COVID-19?
Simple answer: Yes it will.
More complicated answer: In what shape?
I know I usually talk about the ad industry in Lebanon which is being hit by problem after problem. But still, the Lebanese industry is heavily connected to the outside world. Be it through multinationals with international accounts or smaller independent agencies doing work for international clients etc. Already, with the digital starting to sweep everything, with clients building their own in-house teams, with companies asking advertising people for much more while they slash they yearly budget, with agencies fearing to lose their dwindling accounts, with the press (or what is left of it) is trying to scramble for the leftovers of what remains from the Google/Facebook advertising booking cake (digitally at least), with the whole confusion of who did what and when the ever-delayed payments will be made, all these factors are but a fraction of the problems that are surrounding a dying industry.
Well, I used the words dying industry on purpose, because if advertising knows how to do anything it is to resuscitate and reincarnate and take a new body and morph and change and begin from the vestige of what went before. In his book "Adland" Mark Tungate charts the history of advertising and you'd be surprised how many times the industry came back from the brink - radio? Still here, TV? Still here, Outdoors? One way or another still here, and so on and so forth.
Sure, if I see one more ad showing a logo disintegrating for the sake of social distancing am going to scream, and I read about one more agency "caring for its people and the mental health of their employees" am also going to scream. But when all the commotion subsides, there will still be an industry, likelihood it will be a more nimble and agile one.
One of the first ads according to Tungate was for a brothel, likelihood is that it was a self-agency ad.
Ad people are whores, I worked long enough in the industry to know.