Richard Saul Wurman wrote a book whose title describes my feelings about advertising perfectly. It's called "Information Anxiety".
Wurman says "a weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in 17th Century England." Now, I'm sure a lot was going on in 17th Century England. Shakespeare was writing plays and sonnets, wars were endless, and the Enlightenment was beginning to take hold. But there were no tweets, no friending, no linking in or stumbling upon. The only reality show was when you woke up in the morning, and there were no video monitors in carts, no cable and network TV, and certainly no Kardashians. Want to see the Apprentice? He's behind the barn, shearing sheep.
Today we probably have enough advertising and media. If people hated advertising before, we now have social media on which to complain about it to our friends and 35 friends of Bonnie. And we don't even remember who Bonnie is or how she wrote on our wall.
What I'm gracefully trying to point out is that we've never had more competition for the marketing we do. What's more, I'm anxious about what advertising, public relations, and marketing people are doing to get their messages heard in all this clutter.
Are we dumbing down our messages to make them easier to grasp? Are we leaving out the important stuff so there will be less for prospects to read? Are we borrowing interest in the form of fun and games so people will stick around longer than they would if we actually tried to sell them something? Are we using bizarre but irrelevant visuals and technical tricks to attract attention at all cost---the cost being losing people's interest?
In other words, have we in marketing lost the ability to persuade and create desire?
I have anxiety because there's not enough information in advertising and PR, not because there's too much. That's what has made these professions so successful. People actually got something of value out of them.