I was watching the new HBO documentary 'The Weight of the Nation' the other night, and as they made many points on their path to find the reasons for our nations obesity epidemic, among their many theories, they continue to bring attention back to the "fast food problem". The scientists in the documentary made special note of the advertising industry - basically stating that many fast food chains' ads are putting the wrong spin on the word “value”.
In our industry, when you're selling something, you always need to stay mindful of what the consumer finds valuable. But at some point along our road to get there, corporations have actually had the ability to redefine what we deem as worthy of our time and money through consistent advertising. What is value to you? Is it good food at an affordable price, or is it the most bang for your buck regardless of calories, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup?
Over the past 40 years - the food industry has evolved its message to push the value of “quantity over the quality”. So we, in turn, shift our attention from "is this good for me?" to "how much can I get for my money?" and I believe advertising's push in that direction correlates with the standard of American values today.
So what does this mean for our industry? It means that advertising is more powerful than any of us gives it credit. It tells us what to wear, where to shop, what to buy, what to eat, where to sleep, and ect.; but, with great power, comes great responsibility. Advertisers have the amazing opportunity to stand on a pedestal of influence while being broadcasted in High Definition all over the world. It is the agency's job to steer them in the right direction. Of course, the reason you advertise is to gain awareness of your product in hopes to sell more of it - but what if you could do more. What if you could change the way we look at the world around us?
Agencies have the luxury of choosing who they work with. We can choose clients who we believe can make a difference in our community - all the while keeping in mind that what we say needs to serve the client, speak to the consumer, and if we can - tweak the visual and message, so the rest of the industry can revisit the value of its own product. Agencies have, in my mind, been following the "fast food trend" of valuing quantity over quality for some time now - and it is time to change that. If a giant hamburger has the ability to change the nation's views of value, I see no reason why we can't do the same. Only this time, let's bring the focus back on quality, shall we..?