Notes from Bob Garfield’s Chaos Scenario 2.0 Talk at Macalester

Bob Garfield’s Chaos Scenario 2.0 presentation on Monday night felt like the opposite of the Blind Men and the Elephant. He’s just one of the many people from different angles, proclaiming that Advertising is dying and it’ll kill media as we know it.

“That horrible crashing sound you hear is a gravy train derailing.” – Jeff Jarvis

While Garfield gave a number of statistics; P&G and GM dramatically cutting back TV ad buys, etc, my favorite example is:

“[Six Flags] wanted to give away 45,000 tickets for opening day to drive traffic. So we got a brief to do whatever: ads, microsite, whatever. But our interactive creative director just went off and posted it on Craigslist. Five hours later, 45,000 tickets were spoken for” – Jan Leth, Executive Creative Director of Ogilvy Interactive N. America, per Bob Garfield’s Chaos Scenario 2.0

This elicits a number of interesting questions:

  • How does Ogilvy bill for it?
  • Will Six Flags return to Ogilvy the next time around, or just do it themselves?
  • Is this solution more or less measurable than a new website, ad, etc?

The thing is, I doubt direct marketers are having this conversation. Remember, Amazon determined their customers find more value in really cheap shipping than in really expensive TV spots.

Bob Garfield’s 4 Reasons Advertising is Dead:

  1. People don’t like ads.
  2. People crave information.

    We are seeking out commercial information all the time…” – Dave Winer

    “Brands are a proxy for information…” – Chris Anderson

    “… the will be usurped when ‘real’ information is available at a mouseclick – Bob Garfield”

  3. People consumers are in control.
    People choose when and how they engage with advertising.
  4. Diversion of ad budgets

From the Q&A

“Radio broadcasters need to stop thinking of themselves as radio broadcasters and start thinking of themselves as cultural hubs for their communities. Otherwise, they are doomed to a slow but certain death” – Bob Garfield

When asked about the future of in-depth, reflective journalism when advertising ends, Bob joked:

“I have no skills, that’s why I’m in journalism to begin with…I’m hoping for the best, but I’m expecting to starve”

I’m more optimistic than Bob. I predict the removal of advertising will encourage depth and reflectiveness. There will be less pressure to publish for the sake of page views, stories will evolve and grow especially with a more active readership participating.

Lastly, I take issue with the large number of times Garfield used the word ‘consumer’. If mass-marketing in mass-media to a mass-audience is replaced by conversational marketing to small groups and individuals – then there are no consumers. Just people.