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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ads to Go Leaner, Meaner in '09

As posted by: Wall Street Journal

With U.S. ad spending expected to fall 6.2% to $161.8 billion this year, marketers and ad firms will be forced to do more with less, say advertising gurus.

With U.S. ad spending expected to fall 6.2% this year, more brands are taking aim at their competitors, like Domino's with their new oven-baked sandwiches versus Subway. Courtesy of Domino's.

Evidence that marketers wanted ads to work harder began appearing last year as the economy slipped. Brands such as Microsoft, Burger King, Campbell Soup and Dunkin' Donuts took direct aim at their competitors, a marketing technique deployed more frequently in a downturn. Domino's Pizza is starting 2009 with an aggressive campaign for its Oven Baked Sandwiches that touts results from a taste test claiming consumers prefer its sandwiches to Subway's hoagies.

"Ads have to get combative in bad times," says Nick Brien, chief executive of Interpublic Group's Mediabrands. "It's a dog fight, and it's about getting leaner and meaner."

Industry experts also predict 2009 ad pitches will be less lavish and glamorous. Auto makers' ads will be less prevalent. "Goodbye, A-List spokespeople with unspeakable price tags. Hello, Z-List," says Mark Wnek, chief creative officer of Interpublic's Lowe New York.

Madison Avenue executives say they will deploy a host of other strategies, workarounds and outright gimmicks, from shorter TV commercials to billboards that can see who's looking at them. Here are what ad executives say you will see this year:
Short and Sweet

TV ads will emphasize how a purchase will cost you less, and the message will be communicated in less time. Instead of the usual 30-second spots that consumers are used to seeing, expect advertisers to cut back to 15 and even 10 seconds to save money on their ad buys.

—Tim Spengler, president of Initiative, an Interpublic media-buying firm

Less Glitz

Pricey, glitzy ad production will be rare -- no problem for the YouTube generation that hasn't been impressed by gorgeous camera work. Hello to video, studio backgrounds and direct-response TV, ads that promote 1-800 numbers.

—Mr. Wnek

Ads That Watch You

Face-reading technology is upon us. The ability to recognize whether a person looking at a digital sign is male, female, young, old and their ethnicity is here. It will enhance and better align creative to reach its target, thus enabling advertisers to communicate and connect to their consumer.

—Jack Sullivan, director of out-of-home advertising at Publicis Groupe's Starcom

Ads People...Like

People will, amazingly, see more and more advertising they actually like and seek out. It will mean immersive, long-form Internet experiences like Frito-Lay's hotel626.com or Burger King's whoppervirgins.com because, more and more, TV commercials are simply too easy to avoid (and all too deserving of such treatment).

—Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

Ivy League Approval

With their endowment funds shrinking and a sudden need for additional revenue streams, look for hallowed institutions of higher learning to endorse consumer brands next year. Well-respected universities in the U.S. would lend credibility to brands in need like financial institutions and automobile manufacturers.

—Mr. Spengler

Online Tracking

Innovations in location-based services and mobile-phone applications will give consumers more services than Google Maps. People will use Starbucks finders on their cellphones, be able to find friends nearby on Loopt.com, or even search for the nearest toilet at MizPee.com. Local advertisers, such as the neighborhood pizza place, will launch online ad campaigns in 2009 because they can reach customers who are nearby with online ads.

—Tom Bedecarre, chief executive officer of AKQA

Video Explosion

Video will increasingly show up on anything that doesn't move and even some things that do, on cellphones, buses, elevators, fast-food restaurants, billboards and, of course, the Internet. All will be jam-packed with more brands.

—Mr. Spengler

Smart Ads

Out-of-home ads will increasingly be linked to use of cellphones and other Web-enabled mobile gadgets. People's growing ability to gather and store information while out and about is critical and necessary for their purchase decisions, and ads will increasingly cater to new information-gathering behaviors. Expect smart signs that will be able to read your grocery-store loyalty cards to offer better sales deals. Also expect digital signs within retail stores that know your wardrobe (because you will let them know that) and will be able to offer up clothing that will match and complement your existing wardrobe.

—Mr. Sullivan

No Banner Year

Banner ads will be the new junk mail. More and more, reputable companies won't be buying up the space around the Web sites you visit. Clicking these ads will become less and less legitimate as brands will endeavor to do things that add more value to you in the social-media and customer-service space.

—Colleen DeCourcy, chief digital officer at Omnicom's TBWA

Seeing Red

If you were paying attention to the Christmas lights this year, you know red will be the next big color in advertising, taking the throne from orange.

—Mr. Goodby