Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: What is good advertising in a socially networked, multiple channel consuming, I am the media world?

 Aflac’s spoof of the Rankin-Bass classic Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is stirring up some good conversation. But personally, it’s got me thinking about the role of TV spots in our new world as marketers.  “They” say people are watching fewer commercials.  And “they” say even if they’re watching the spot, it’s only because they can’t hit the fast forward button on the DVR.  And, “they” say, they’re definitely not paying attention while the spot is on because they’re listening to their ipod, talking on a cell phone, sending email, IMing, making a YouTube video, posting to a message board, writing their blog, reading someone else’s blog, subscribing to an RSS feed, listening to a podcast, playing a video game and updating their profiles on any number of social networking sites at the same time.  And who knows? They may be doing all that while having a good old fashioned human conversation with someone sitting by them in the same room.


Personally, I like the spot. But I also love the nostalgia of those old TV specials and memories of going through the Sears Wishbook to write down the GI Joes I wanted (and I’m talking 12” GI Joe here folks.) I also respect what Aflac has tried to do with its category, injecting a bit of fun and humor into the mix.  And based on how many duck spots I’ve seen so far, they must feel good about the results. 

But it got me thinking about new debate on an age old question – what’s the point of ads NOW? Obviously, it’s still to support brand strategy in an effective way, but should it be…

  • Memorable, even if it is painful to watch? Think Head On.
  • Funny like the Aflac spot or any number of Bud Light spots? (some of my recent favorites here and here)
  • Just a bit louder than what you were watching so you look up?
  • What we’re used to seeing since TV was invented – a little bit of everything, even if it just plain blends in?

For me, I think TV spots will have to be more like good, viral web video.  And that might be like the first 2 choices.  But what do you think?