DDB’s Bill Bernbach on the digital revolution – a few decades before it actually happened

Thanks to George Parker for this; Bill Bernbach, legendary founder of Doyle Dane Bernbach, saying in 1977 that ideas and the clever people who produce them are much more important than media and technology.

Do the big shots of today’s advertising and media businesses still believe this? No they don’t, although they still pay lip service to it.

John Wren and Maurice Levy say the reason for the PublicCom merger is technology (and cost cuts) while WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell opines that these days we’re ‘math men’ as opposed to ‘mad men.’

Every year, come Cannes, they backtrack a bit. But they don’t really mean it.

I watched a presentation the other day from an agency group with some really good digital stuff – or so it seemed at the time. But, an hour later, later I’d forgotten most of it.

Maybe that’s why are there no digital agency superstars? Or not many anyway. Because it’s hard to recall the work, let alone who did it.

All of which doesn’t mean that digital is going to go away – and why should it? Every campaign has digital bells and whistles attached to it for obvious reasons. But the internet is primarily a means of distribution – a medium – rather than a catalyst for creativity.

Selling or promotional messages that stay in your head are usually the ones that could have appeared (and often still do) in traditional media but find a longer life on the internet.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

One comment

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    I think times are different. Our media environment is so saturated that people’s attention span is much shorter than before. There is also so much advertising that it’s just overwhelming and makes people tune out. Most of it is very intrusive and not creative at all.