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Posted: June 01, 2009

Guest column: The end of advertising as we know it

New technology, new generations and evolving lifestyles have broadened media options

Pasquale “Pocky” Marranzino

As Mick Jagger sings in the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” please allow me to introduce myself …

My name is Pasquale “Pocky” Marranzino Jr. I am co-president of Karsh & Hagan, a 32-year-old advertising agency headquartered a long home run north of Coors Field. I have been practicing my craft for 36 years, and I have worked on a number of household names locally, regionally and nationally.

I am flattered to be invited to write a marketing column for this publication. My goal is to give you a glimpse of what’s going on in the area of commercial persuasion; how the landscape has changed, and how you might think about marketing your business better.  Every other article, or so, I will invite a guest columnist to update you on the latest marketing trends and techniques.

While working at Young & Rubicam, I had the opportunity to attend their ad school in New York. The first thing we learned is that in advertising, there are no rules. And today, certainly more than ever, there are no rules. It seemed a lot easier back then using the traditional media of the day — newspaper, television, radio, magazine and out-of-home.

During the last 10 years there has been an explosion of media vehicles and the way you “reach” consumers. In fact, it would be better to change “reach” to “connect.” In addition to the traditional marketing arsenal, we need to add digital, mobile, viral, social and much more. This is the end of advertising as we know it. Have you Twittered today? What blogs are you reading? How many times a day do you check your Facebook page? What is going on (or isn’t going on) out there?
New technology, new generations and evolving lifestyles have made media options broader. In fact, technology has expanded and changed the way brands behave. As creative director of global powerhouse agency TBWA, Lee Clow (one of the creators of the famous 1984 McIntosh Super Bowl ad) says:

“First we have to rethink what we call media. … Media used to be simply a way for brands to target consumers. … But today, media is the way that people are engaging with the world around them. … In essence, today media is any space between the brand and the audience.”  A great example of this is the iPhone. It is a medium, a brand and a way of life, all in one device.

Now we have an explosion of choice. Forty years ago, Alvin Toffler, an American author and futurist, predicted an explosion of choice. I think even he would be surprised at what has transpired and that it encompasses more than media.
I heard on National Public Radio that in 1979 when March Madness was born, there were four choices when it came to national television. Today, many systems offer a choice of about 800 channels. Throw in digital, mobile phones, niche publications, satellite radio, social markets, and you get the picture.

Media control has shifted from passive media — put a message out there and attract attention — to active media that is real life two-way communication. Consumers now have control. They can view/read/listen/hear/react/create and join into the media conversation. This is where you come in.

In the new age of “Media Arts” it is imperative that brands engage consumers on their terms within the lifestyles that they live. It’s not enough to create an ad and run it. You need to create a connection, a relationship that will nurture your brand.
Where you start marketing has not changed: by working backward from your audience. Media planning is now audience planning. You need to study, what, where, when and how your audience consumes media and plan from there. If you can figure out who you are talking to you can figure out how to connect with them.

Don’t forget about consumer segmentation because different audiences will react to different media and consume in different ways based on age and lifestyle. There are still no rules in advertising, but there are a lot more things to think about.

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Pasquale Marranzino is the co-president of Karsh & Hagan, a strategic, creative and digital agency, headquartered in Denver. He can be reached at pmarranzino@karsh.com. Look for future columns by Marranzino and his guests online monthly at cobizmag.com and quarterly in print.

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