Advertising needs a new name

I love going to dinner parties. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with the ubiquitous question, “What do you do?” because when the question is turned back to me all I have to say is simply, “Advertising.” The conversation then immediately turns to MadMen. Often people want to know if that kind of drama goes on today. Do we still smoke and drink and plot to stab each other in the back? “Why, yes, of course”. From there I can entertain my new friends with at least one story of intrigue and drama in the effort to serve my clients. I light a cigarette for effect.

A good friend has pointed out that MadMen has pulled back the curtain on what goes on in an advertising agency. It’s actually teaching media studies to hundreds of thousands of people — that and how it pays to be a pot smoking, backstabbing egomaniac. Yet what they are teaching is a kind of advertising that is shrinking in size and importance. The days of presenting a television only campaign to a client are far behind many of us. Unfortunately, so is the three martini lunch.

When my dinner companions ask me what sort of campaigns I’m working on, my answer gets them a little deflated. Almost none of it sounds as sexy as a TV campaign. And arguably what my company does today isn’t advertising. Event marketing, social media, iphone apps, guerilla marketing, brand creation, innovation, public relations –– none of this is advertising in the traditional sense but they are the tools we are using with increasing frequency.

Basically, I don’t really think I’m in “advertising.” The word advertising just doesn’t cut it anymore. Problem is, there isn’t another word that works any better without being a little too try-hardy. A few examples: Marketing Communications (too milquetoast), Branding Agency (too amorphous), Next Generation Advertising (whatever), Full service Solutions Agency (including kitchen sinks?). Whenever I hear someone say that they are a Digital Branding Agency, I joke, “Well, we are an Atomic Agency”.

Folks, we need to come up with a new word for advertising. Because advertising itself has been redefined. We need a better word that describes what we do in the 21st century—a word that is just as sexy as the word it is replacing. I’ve spent time on it myself but the best I could come up with was something like Adfurnugen. I need help.

So I propose a contest. I need you to help dream up a new word for advertising. You can enter as many times as you like. A short sentence or two to support your idea would be welcome. The prize? How about a nice dinner for two at Le Pigeon in Portland or Union in Seattle, two of the best restaurants in America. Let’s start a revolution in advertising by giving it a new name altogether. Good luck. And I’m not kidding.

The Give Advertising a New Name Contest
email your new name to [email protected] with the subject: Advertising Contest
Deadline March 12th
PAF will declare the winner and bestow the prize at the March program event.