Sunday, December 27, 2009

Maybe It's Time For Ad Age To Change Its Name?

I logged onto for my weekly perusal and couldn't help but notice that there are basically only two types of stories on the home page.

One group of headlines focuses on the dire state of the advertising business as we bring down the curtain on the first decade of the millennium:

"Ad Spending Heads Into Tepid Recovery"
"2009 Set to Show First Revenue Decline for Nation's Top 100 Media Cos."
"More Firing Than Hiring at Ad Agencies"

The other is about everything in which the advertising business dabbles, beyond the making of ads, themselves:

"Five Best Branded-Entertainment Deals of 2009"
"Branded Virtual Goods are Presents for Marketers, Too"
"Five Keys to Branded-Entertainment Success"
"Twitter at a Crossroads: Audience Growth Won't Be Enough in 2010"
"Want to Innovate? Then Create a Rich, Holistic Brand Experience"
"Ad Age Launches Mobile App for iPhone, iPod Touch"
"GMC Partners With Social Network as More Marketers Target Christian Demo"
"Looking For a Second Career? Consider Being a Community Manager"

What does this tell me?

That what was once the future is now the present: Digital. Social Media. Brand placement. Brand experiences.

Advertising as we knew it is over. It sure was fun while it lasted.

And while old ad guys like me might shed a tear or two as the thirty second commercial goes the way of the Giant Panda, we should also keep our eyes on the bigger picture:

It's really not an end, but a new beginning. A whole new world of technology, insights and the myriad opportunities that come with both.

The king is dead.

Long live the king.

– Mark

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Logo? Or Loco?

Last month, after the FDA held its hearings on establishing guidelines for social media for pharma, I wrote a piece somewhat supportive of phARMA's suggestion that the industry establish an FDA "seal of approval"- type logo.

Since then, I've had numerous conversations on the subject with many very smart people who are either directly or closely involved in the FDA discussion and am starting to get more of a handle on how such a solution could possibly work.

As Dan Solomon, CEO of Virilion (the "V" in our new joint venture, EV Healthcare) points out, the electronics industry has long been policing itself for safety standards through the auspices of the independent product safety certification organization, Underwriter Laboratories.

Since the early 1900s, the "UL" logo has appeared on everything from fire extinguishers to washers and dryers, to show consumers that the products on which it is stamped have been proven to be in accordance with Underwriters Laboratories' strict safety standards.

According to the UL's own website, "The UL Mark on a product means that UL has tested and evaluated representative samples of that product and determined that they meet UL requirements. Under a variety of programs products are periodically checked by UL at the manufacturing facility to make sure they continue to meet UL requirements."

In turn, UL testing has to meet the standards set by the federal government's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

So if the electronics industry, which bears the responsibility of preventing countless injuries and deaths of consumers by electrical shock and fire, can police itself this way, is it such a stretch to ask the pharma industry to do the same?

Couldn't pharma, in conjunction with the FDA, come to an agreement on what the standards of responsible marketing should be, and then create its own FDA-authorized governing body to uphold them?

And couldn't every piece of pharma-created marketing material – both online and off – proudly wear a seal of approval, stating that it meets the highest standards, and that the FDA is more than welcome to come kick the tires?

Just a thought.

– Mark

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