Tim Flattery – Advertising 2020

Tim Flattery, Creative Director, Grainey Pictures

What could/should “advertising” look like in 2020?
What do we need to do now for this future?

The answers to these questions in my opinion aren’t complicated. They’re obvious.

In the end, as most things do, it comes down to mathematics.

Bob Dylan once said songwriting is fundamentally mathematics – the use of patterns to engage a mind, body and soul.

As it turns out, advertising – our business of persuasion – is also fundamentally mathematics.

So, here’s the math:

On-demand media consumption is a polar opposite to the interruption model of advertising. It is positively charged to interruption’s negative charge.

Once on-demand media consumption reaches critical mass (70% of all media consumption – in 2020) the interruption model collapses in on itself. On-demand media consumption will behave like the interruption ad industry’s ‘black hole’. It will suck up planets of agencies and solar systems of media companies by the time its appetite is satiated.

The phrase I coined for this phenomenon is ‘Media Warming’ (which happens to also be the title of my new documentary – don’t you just hate product placement? Better get used to it).

By 2020, clients will reverse the weight of their persuasion investment away from interruption to narrative engagement. The split will be about 80/20.

20% of budgets will be devoted to shouting in a reengineered interruption model (sponsorship) and 80% will be devoted to seducing in a new engagement model.

What does that mean for ad agencies?

How does our industry prepare?

Things need to be turned 180 degrees now to mirror the new normal in advance:

  • The science of ‘brand’ needs to be retired and replaced with the arc of ‘protagonist’.
  • The narrative architecture of advertising needs to evolve away from propositions wrapped in anecdotes to three-act stories through which a protagonist brand evolves.
  • Agencies need to be populated with engineers, psychologists, behavioral economists, fiction writers and journalists (keep a few suits).
  • Agencies need to fire anyone who needs this theory explained.

The disruptors are about to be disrupted.