Tough Times for Don and Peggy

Tough Times for Don and Peggy

Advertising, television, media – they sound like cool places to work right? What with Mad Men like a giant commercial for the glamorous industry of advertising, I imagine more people than ever are lusting after careers writing copy and crafting campaigns. Maybe though, their better bet would be to plan to hand out samples in supermarkets.

Mad Men (Season 5)It has been a tough decade for traditional media, and the world’s largest advertiser, Procter and Gamble (P & G) , has just dealt it another blow. This week P & G came out with a good news-bad news statement on advertising. The good news: P & G is done cutting budgets. The bad news: they are not looking to spend more on television ads, but instead will be looking into ‘sampling’.

You know sampling right? It’s when, if you are lucky enough to live in a test neighborhood, you open your mail and there is a free pack of Nutella in there (that happened to me!). Or, it is when you go to the supermarket and there is someone handing out pieces of fish smeared with the latest marindade, or itty-bitty pieces of Danish so you can get a taste. As this article from Ad Age Daily details, sampling is a point of entry for consumers, who if they did not have new things slammed in their faces would probably keep making the same old choices.

It probably is a good strategy for P & G, but it is a blow to already-squeezed  television networks and advertising agencies (and unlike in the Mad Men days, I’m told that these days people can’t just pour martinis all day to drown their sorrows). Fewer ads means you need fewer people to write ads and produce them.

All is not lost for would be Don Drapers though. While traditional advertising looks stuck, companies like P & G are investing more heavily in digital media (which is cheaper for them), and in marketing campaigns that get the product in the hands of would-be customers. To be fair though, P & G like many companies is also consolidating the number of people it has doing advertising, and according to Ad Age, has in fact cut their ranks by a third over the past two years.

“Lean, mean and effective”. As a slogan its not bad, but for those in advertising and market the reality of it may be less pleasant.

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