Calm down dear, it's only a commercial

Posted by: Rowan Manning, Seven

Native advertising and why everyone just needs to take a deep breath.

Ads are horrid, aren’t they? They point out how fat and old you are, how crappy your car is, and they use stuffed animals to sell you pretty much everything.

And salespeople? Good lord, nothing worse! “Ugh, he was such a salesperson.” Translation: oily, underhand – a car thief with a degree.

Editorial? That’s totally different. It is Glinda the Good to advertising’s Wicked Witch of the West. Editorial is pure, editorial is principled, editorial cannot be bought.

But we all know that’s a fairytale. It is no secret that Murdoch is more stripy tights than taffeta ballgown, and who thinks Graham Norton’s guests have nowhere better to be on a ‘Friday’ night?

The current native advertising squabbles make me wonder if anything’s changed, or if we really do still think that advertising has to be oily and underhand. Comedian John Oliver, on HBO’s Last Week Tonight show, claimed that “native advertising" is destroying the separation of "church and state”. And Econsultancy’s Ben Davis recently called for the term to be banned.

In my view, it is not the format or the label that’s the problem, it’s the content itself. When Graham holds up Gwyneth’s latest cookbook, does it make our blood boil? No, we don’t mind at all, because we all want to stare at gorgeous Gwyneth (now she would make a good Glinda).

The point is that we need to make advertising that adds value in the same way as editorial – that doesn’t make readers feel angry or even a bit dirty. So here’s my blinding solution for this paid-for pickle we’re in. Whatever your brand, its advertising will only ever be one of two things – ‘Good’ advertising or ‘Bad’ advertising.

If you are alive, you may have come across Bad advertising before. It makes you scream expletives at your tablet as the responsive site you are on resizes and your chubby finger hits ‘4 TIPS TO KILL BELLY FAT’. Guess this explains why 99% of people just ignore digital display ads.

Good advertising is the stuff people like and want to watch, read or hear. It’s relevant, and either entertaining or informative, or provides a service. From a stunning dress on a display page in Vogue to beautifully shot recipes in a Sainsbury’s Magazine advertorial to a red, white and blue air race, it is all content that is welcomed by the audience. Content that tempts people to get involved, upload their own content or share with friends.

Being a content agency with an editorial background, Seven makes, manages and monetises content. We’ve been making Good advertising here for more than 21 years now (twice the lifespan of a meerkat in captivity). In fact, in our campaign for Unilever’s Stork on Sainsbury’s Magazine site last month the recipe content was so popular that it made it into the site’s Top 10 recipes – check out the chocolate salted caramel marble cake here.

As you can imagine, Good advertising is pretty popular with brands. We have expanded our commercial division and now have our own studios, kitchens, video production suite and commercial-editorial talent. We’ve evolved to work with publishers such as the Guardian and HuffPo, creating and distributing rich, branded content/native advertising/advertorial content (delete as applicable) for hundreds of brands, as well as for our own clients, such as Sainsbury’s.

So forget the native advertising witch-hunt. Put down the bucket of water and step away from the green lady with the warty nose. Good advertising works, whatever you want to call it.

Rowan Manning is Group Commercial Director at Seven

Posted in CMA blog
21stAug 2014

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