How meta advertising may be our saviour – The Drum

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No matter where I see it, I’m always impressed by meta advertising.
It could be on the side of a bus, a billboard, the pre-roll to a YouTube video or on TV. And it impresses me because I know it took brave creatives to come up with it, and even braver clients to buy it.
But after being in the industry for three years, I find myself dying to see more of it.
This type of work pokes fun at both the product, the brand and/or the advertising industry itself. And as a result, it gets talked about a lot. I feel that this honest, self-aware type of advertising is an opportunity to do great work, so why aren’t we doing more of it?
It seems to me that the more honesty an ad shows, the more inclined I am to pay attention to it. The honest and self-aware tone of voice from brands creating meta content will cut through the overwhelming amount of bullshit online.
I can’t deny that an Oasis poster telling me that it has sales targets is brilliant, and it even makes me trust them a little more.
But my generation demands honesty and openness at every turn, so, will more brands have to eventually comply and start to step into the world of meta advertising, whether they like it or not? All I know is that I’m excited to see what this holds for the future of our industry.
What makes our industry so great is that it’s adaptable to change and moves almost effortlessly with the times. I cannot think of a better example of this, than the work Ryan Reynolds produces with his agency, Maximum Effort Productions.
Their relevant and down-to-earth advertising techniques means that their work is always received well online. For example, when they used the infamous woman from the Peloton commercial to sell Aviation Gin, which was shared fifty-six thousand times.
It seems to me that whenever brands break down the wall between them and the audience, they show an understanding of what it’s like to be a consumer. This feels more attuned to the digital landscape than anything I’m seeing at the moment.
I’m well aware that meta advertising isn’t new, and has been around for some years, but the tone of it always feels so fresh to me.
Like BrewDog writing ‘Advert on a bus’, I love how they’ve removed that awkward relationship between brand and consumer by telling it how it is. There’s no payoff, no ask, just an advert on a bus.
It’s that type of brutal honesty that when used on a digital landscape, I think has the power to put brands in a new light for audiences. Instead of seeing our work as advertising, punters might start to see it as shareable content, much like the Aviation Gin ad.
Therefore, will creating work that people genuinely have an interest in sharing, mean that we stand more of a chance of being seen as innovative rather than intrusive?
Now I know that some people hate the idea of going meta: they see it as a cop-out and possibly the end to our industry. But if you couldn’t tell by the first four paragraphs, I disagree.
I don’t see it as us hiding what we are, I see it as a progression, especially as some audiences don’t care about advertising and certainly don’t want to hear about how great your deodorant is, or how good your beer tastes. The bottom line is that they don’t trust you.
I believe that the only way to change that is to open the door, to let the audience in, empathise with them and most importantly, to laugh at ourselves.
Once we get them there, that’s when we’ll be able to build our relationships with them, and maybe – just maybe – they might buy what we’ve got to sell.
Ben Connell, junior creative, Southpaw

We are a creative agency that uses the science of emotion to help build brands. We use neuroscience and effectiveness research methods in order to deliver creativity that will have high emotional impact on behalf of our clients. We call this creativity that moves people and we do this for brands such as Honda, Diageo, Molson Coors and PZ Cussons. Our parent company is the globally recognised and awarded agency network, Hakuhodo Inc, giving us the ability to operate with global scale, delivering best in class technology as well as building revenue generating IP for clients. We put an enormous value on the power of relationships, which to us means commitment, clear objectives and a sense of fun, bringing an average client tenure of 8 years.
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