"Google and Facebook are attacking,” came the cry from Madison Avenue. “Circle the wagons,” was the answer from France. And so two of the world’s biggest advertising companies, Omnicom and Publicis, announce they are merging. Now that advertisements are more algorithm than Mad Men , the television series depicting Madison Avenue in the 1960s, the merger is being interpreted as the end of the golden era of advertising. It has been seen by the news media as a move by these two ad agencies to shore up resources in order to compete with the giants of Silicon Valley.
“谷歌和Facebook正在向我们发起攻击，”麦迪逊大道(Madison Avenue，美国广告业的代名词——译者注)发出了惊呼。“进入防御模式，”这是法国做出的回答。于是，全球两大广告公司阳狮集团(Publicis)和宏盟集团（Omnicom，又称奥姆尼康）宣布合并。鉴于现在的广告相对于《广告狂人》(Mad Men)描述的时代更加依赖于算法，这起合并案被解读为广告行业黄金时代的结束。《广告狂人》是反映二十世纪六十年代美国广告业风貌的系列电视剧。新闻媒体认为，这一举措表明两家广告公司正在扩充资源，以对抗硅谷巨头。
The problem with this view, however, is that it makes two flawed assumptions. On one hand, it imagines there is a data-enabled, predictive digital advertising machine that is the inevitable future. Search for tyres and you get an ad for Michelins on sale a mile from your current location. On the other hand, it overly romanticises Mad Men-style advertising virtuosity, in which three suave guys sit back with cocktails and kick around ideas on how to sell you anything from hair-replacement therapy to car insurance.
Both caricatures have a kernel of truth to them. But if advertising is to thrive in this wired era, the efficiency of digitally targeted media must embrace the creativity of Mad Men, and vice versa. The organisations that can do this, whether they are conglomerates or boutiques, will usher in advertising’s second golden age. Indeed, in a short time we may be watching a hit TV series (or web series, for that matter) dramatising the moment when efficiency became hip.
The fate of the newly formed Publicis Omnicom Group remains to be written, and Maurice Lévy and John Wren, who will serve as joint chief executives, may not make it through the 30 months that they have agreed to serve together. Yet, if this cross-Atlantic merger leads to a better understanding that good advertising manages the synergies between creativity and efficiency, it will have been a transformational moment for the business. There are three things we should look for.
新成立的阳狮宏盟集团(Publicis Omnicom Group)的命运有待书写。即将出任联合首席执行官的莫里斯•雷维(Maurice Lévy)和庄任(John Wren)或许撑不过他们协议共事的30个月。但如果这笔跨越大西洋的合并交易促使业界更深刻地理解到，优秀的广告公司应当管理好创意与效率之间的协同效应，那么该交易对于整个广告行业来说将是一个变革性的时刻。我们应关注如下三个问题。
First, can digitally targeted advertising also be creative? It is now possible to target adverts to the right person at the right time in the right place. But that is not enough. It is not sufficient to claim that customer segmentation is dead and set up an automatically generated slew of ads based on input. If the adverts are not inspired, they are noise. And they will be ignored. In our quest to tweet, like and trend, we have forgotten that brands can be built through advertising. Ads can generate big ideas that can never be trumped by tactics. That is the magic of an ad, and that is what is missing from many ads today.
Second, even creative adverts have to be efficiently produced and delivered so they meet the basic goal of selling products by advancing the brand image. Too often, the decision on the client side is left to people who have little experience and cannot judge a flashy ad from one that will sell. Money is being wasted on adverts that go right over a consumer’s head. They may win awards at Cannes, but they lose at the cash register.
The way to fix this is to think about process improvement: how are critical decisions made? Not long ago, it was rare for businesses in the knowledge economy to think along these lines. Today, we are seeing a commitment to greater efficiency across a range of sectors, from manufacturing to professional services. It is time to bring this thinking to advertising.
The Google model of targeted advertising is appealing because it claims to cut down on waste. We need to ask how that efficiency can be brought to creative process. Done right, it may even generate greater creativity. Mr Lévy and Mr Wren, along with the chief marketing officers managing our best global brands, should look to the example set by counterparts in manufacturing and supply management.
Third, creative teams and assets need efficient management. Teams need to work together in real time so that additional resources are freed to enable the companies to innovate and grow. IBM and Accenture both illustrate the point. Both have highly sophisticated people and resource allocation, and both employ tracking systems to monitor and ensure efficiency. This data-enabled monitoring has proved neither a threat nor an impediment to creativity. In fact, data have enabled a new set of tools leaders can use to nurture creativity among teams.
The cross-Atlantic merger has captured our imaginations because it is a global business development rich with personality and sex appeal. Now, the likes of Apple, Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola are going to be handled by one big company. But the value of the merger will be tested by whether it ushers in the second golden age of advertising. It can do so only by merging the data and analytics of 21st century invention with the ideas and genius creativity of the first golden age of advertising, enabling efficiency and creativity to thrive side by side.
这起跨大西洋合并案激发了我们的想象力，因为它是全球商业领域发生的一件彰显个性与魅力的重大事件。从现在开始，苹果(Apple)、宝洁(Procter & Gamble)和可口可乐(Coca-Cola)等公司将成为同一家大型广告公司的客户。但该合并案的价值将体现为新巨头能否催生广告行业第二个黄金时代。而新巨头若想实现这一目标，唯有把数据、二十一世纪新出现的分析方法与广告业第一个黄金时代的构想以及天才创意融合到一起，使工作效率和创意能力同时得到提升。