Agencies are pushing the limits of new media in search of brand buzz.

By Ann Cooper

Chuck Porter, chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, an agency particularly adept at leading the way into the great beyond, beyond the 30-second spot that is, likes to make the following point at presentations when addressing the subject of his agency's white-hot creativity. He shows a slide, and says, "Yes, we've figured out the new definition of creativity, and here's the formula." The slide shows a ridiculously complicated scientific formula, making the point that there is no formula or definition, and in other ways there are completely new definitions, depending on your perspective.

In an era when creativity has become democratized, media is the new creativity, consumers want more control of their media and soothsayers argue that the 30-second commercial is going the way of the Dodo, it seems obvious that we not only need a new definition of creativity, but of media also.

According to Joseph Jaffe, author of the book, "Life After the 30-Second Spot" and president of Jaffe, a "new marketing" consultancy, "We're witnessing these fundamental paradigm shifts in advertising from push to pull, from intrusiveness to mission-based or invitation. But it's more fundamental than that, we're moving from an era of impression-based advertising to a time-based era of involvement, interactivity and engagement."

He continues, "Look at the explosion of consumer-generated spoof ads. I created a Tiger Woods spoof ad for Nike and within five days I had 125,000 views on my blog. This whole consumer generated content angle is interesting because it's about expressing oneself and one's feelings about a brand and contextualizing those feelings. In some respects it's all about control, and the problem is that marketers demand and want it, and consumers have it."

So just how do marketers capture the increasingly elusive eyeballs of consumers? "Obviously, it's a difficult question," says Jaffe, ex-head of interactive at TBWAChiatDay. "If I knew the answer, I wouldn't tell you. If anyone has the formula, they'd be in a very special place. It's part of a secret formula that focuses on finding those influencers and leaders in society."

One thing he is certain of is the continued dominance of the Internet. "I'm very biased in favor of Internet, but I came from the Web," he says. "I truly believe it is the chameleon of modern day marketing, because it's so versatile. It's a medium, a storefront, a channel, a distribution mechanism and a fulfillment center. The new definition of creative has four ingredients: sight, sound, motion and interactivity. The Internet offers heaps of interactivity, and that's where we need to focus, rather than asking what's the next big thing."

However people do it, whether via traditional ads, branded content, short films, Internet-led strategies, mobile communications, podcasting or any of the other burgeoning new forms of communications, some say the answer lies in compelling content, any kind of compelling content. "Clients should not be looking for a solution in any one form or kind of media," says Carl Johnson, founding partner of Anomaly, an 18-month old company whose principals have a diverse range of skills including media, design, licensing and interactive. "An idea can come in any form that engages the consumer. There's no backlash against compelling content."

To read more about branded content and new media, pick up a copy of the latest issue of ONE. A MAGAZINE.

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