“The ad man who does not look at ads.” Isn’t that contradictory title? This is exactly what I thought while reading this intriguing interview about Ignacio Oreamuno, former head of ADC (Art Directors Club). His views on creativity in the future of advertising grabbed my attention. Because I truly believe this interview has the potential to rekindle the passion of marketers, I translated the interview and outlined a few key elements (you can also access the original interview in French).
The man and his vision
Ignacio Oreamuno has built his career by challenging the status quo and encouraging other advertising professionals to do the same. Even though he has spent his life working in this industry, he does not watch cable TV, buy magazines, or read newspapers: “I can’t bear advertising. I produce things that I don’t look at,” he explains. It is like a chef who won’t taste his own cooking. He is also concerned about the impact of the advertising on the environment: “All the pollution, all the garbage… How many generators do we need to be able to run all the microsites in the world? We are wasting these resources to print, encode and deliver this content, which get only 0.5% click-through rate at the end.”
What’s the solution?
Oreamuno suggests that we go back in time. Ads used to be very beautiful, and were considered works of art. For instance, during the 1920s, people were not deconstructing taglines or product shots. They were judging ads according to their beauty. This explains why we can still admire the famous “Tournée du Chat Noir” ads from the 19th century that we see featured in restaurants. People still like looking at these ads.
According to Oreamuno, advertising people should try to transform a brand into a work of art: “We need to bring back the creation of beautiful things. (…) Imagine if the Royal Bank had two options: to give one million dollars to a big agency or $100,000 to ten different artists, like Bansky. Who’s going to produce the most interesting work?” The answer is: Artists, obviously! Because they have endless imagination and don’t think about fulfilling a list of criteria when it’s time to create. A brilliant example of this is H&M hiring Wes Anderson to direct a video ad called “Come Together”:
To Oreamuno, there is no difference between a digital agency, a marketing agency, an event planning agency, an architecture firm, or other creators. “We all do the same thing. We say something about a brand that sells products. We need to create beauty to achieve this,” he says. How does he imagine ad agencies in the future? “Agencies will not have more than 50 employees. They will be looking to do truly remarkable things, and to build things. They will not be looking for expansion, because when agencies are expanding, they start doing garbage work.”
Advertising could be resumed as art crossing path with commerce. If you would work in an ad agency, you would see that there are free-spirit creators among us: designers, web developers, copywriters, who are very thirsty to work on creative projects and create beautiful ads with a real artistic approach behind it.
I understand however why people would download a plug-in like AdBlock to fight the “invasiveness of digital advertising.” Instead of being ‘pushy’, brands should engage the conversation in a non-intrusive manner and know if their products are matching customers’ interests. That way, they are more likely to react positively to ads and the advertiser only pays for those engaged views.
Here are two ads from our portfolio: The New Me Time (York Region Transit) and Star Trek: The Experience (Canada Aviation and Space Museum):
By creating ads that are original, very much different in formats and aesthetics, marketers are taking the risk of creating beauty. See the ad “37 Days” produced by Atlantic Group, winner of 4 Lions in Cannes in June 2016. This ad is so different but extremely artistic:
Do you think that Ignacio Oreamuno is too idealistic? What is your opinion about the future of marketing? As a marketing agency, we love talking about creativity and sharing ideas.
Tournée du Chat noir, 1896, by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum