In many ways modern advertising has come a long way since tobacco companies first introduced modern techniques in the 1920s to create mass demand to match the new mass production methods. Soon new mediums like radio, TV and film enabled brands and their agencies to dynamically demonstrate their products’ benefits in ways that static promotions never achieved. As we learned each channel’s strengths, we discovered better ways to target our audiences, gaining ever-increasing accuracy in broadcasting our messages. But fundamentally, the way we communicated never changed. We were always talking at consumers and never with them.
For a long time, that was all we could do. It was all the technologies allowed. Fortunes were made by pushing ads into every conceivable media channel, trying to lure consumers into buying the advertised product. And it worked.
Over time consumers learned to mute TV commercials and ignore omnipresent billboards and magazine ads. They became jaded and cynical. We as marketers figured out new, more interesting ways to push our messages and it continued to work—for a while.
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