Vicente Valjalo de Ramón – What could/should “advertising” look like in 2020

Vicente Valjalo de Ramón, Founding Partner, Objetivo

1. Advertising in the 2020 should be become an ontological, cultural and psychological practice. While the Advertising community does reflect on its nature, it rarely questions the ontological and epistemological foundations that support the practice.

On the ontologically dimension, Advertising should look at the symbolic implications of the actions actors deploy to position brands in a context of relevancy in a market increasingly complex, variable and volatile. On the one hand, there are actions oriented to capture the attention, interest and emotions of the target audience, and secondly others that try to articulate the relationship between agencies and clients. Glancing at audiences we should consider Advertising messages complex cultural events, where audiences have integrated their active role in the construction of meaning and developed a growing demand for Advertising to be “transparent”, embedded deeply into culture, whilst respectfully consider the frameworks from which she is created and recreated, while it makes sense of everyday life. Archetypes, Storytelling, and the relevance of the Unconscious on modern content creation, reveal how brand messages need to be deeply engaged into the symbolic apparatus and not just nice pictures posted on walls. Advertising is not a minor component but a mature actor that structure reality from existing frameworks of interpretation and action. Structural changes in modern society, new media, complex intergroup dynamics, diverse business practices and an on going complex subjectivity, they all generate the need to reflect on the dynamics of meaning from which Advertising builds itself.

On the other hand, practices that articulate agencies and clients also have to be reoriented. Form a stand where there are two actors looking at the same phenomena from different sides, we should redefine the relationship understanding that Advertising is not something that happens our there, but rather a complex phenomenon that results in the systemic integration between “the client”, “the agency” and “the consumer”. We are really the same entity looking at the same cultural issue. The creation of a new method to integrate these three instances into one, or at least aim for that, should transform the traditional way of defining Advertising problems into a more complex and substantial cultural issue to resolve.

The future of Advertising should also involve reflecting, additionally, on the epistemology of Advertising or the way product messages become knowledge in modern society. Advertising creates meaning becoming a specific knowledge creation pattern. Advertising messages are actual practices that open up knowledge spaces in people lives, it’s a specific way of knowing how to deal and make sense of the world. Advertising provides information that not only teaches a way of being in the world but a way of dealing with everyday issues. If key players assume that messages should not only be informative, but assume their performative function, we can move from the symbolic sphere towards a more actionable where messages include not only information and engagement, but also they are embedded into everyday practices, where products become meaningful objects.

So, in 2020, Advertising should reshape the understanding of its practice towards a more reflective and philosophical space, integrating business, but also allowing messages to become cultural practices foremost. Market offerings are promises that become alive in products, therefore Advertising should refocus from messages itself towards ontological and epistemological implications of its practices over clients, agencies and consumers, and the systemic relation between them.

2. We need to conceptualize Advertising from broader perspective. It’s time to define Advertising from a philosophical, social, cultural and psychological point of view. We require fresh standpoints, from outside the world of Advertising itself, to enrich the sphere of influence from which messages are created, analysed and evaluated. Perhaps the much ballyhooed death of Advertising is more a symbolic action that attempts to redefine the activity from outside the parameters currently in operation. Let us leave to marketing the business aspect of Advertising and lets make Advertising a true social science.

Naturally, the question arises as from where do we perform this recasting. Redefining a discipline necessarily involves the delineation of an object of study. Well, this new Advertising should address the increasing role of consumption in contemporary culture. That is, consumption and its impact of subjectivity, how to make society and how culture is reformulated in light of the centrality that consumption has acquired not only on the consumer itself but also on society as a whole.

This means we need to redefine the criteria from where and where Advertising aims. While historically the commercial aspect has been central, we should refocus of the performative aspects of our practice. In the future, Advertising should expand its efficiency parameters, exiting the stronghold of the commercial, to be inserted into the core cultural spheres where people and contemporary world is created. These not only imply bringing people into the process, but also allow the process to enter the world of people. Advertising should become a social science that looks at reality from the context of consumption and its impact on people’s lives. Other modifications, based on a shift within the practice itself from its current parameters, simply do not point in the right direction. The reformulation of Advertising must redefine the very object of the activity and how their results are analysed. Communication as a phenomenon in the commercial arena today is part of a larger phenomenon that occupies much of our real, imaginary and symbolic world. Consumption it’s the phenomenon that must reinvent Advertising as a discipline and practice.