Claire Beale - It's nice to get excited about TV once in a while
A view from Claire Beale

Claire Beale - It's nice to get excited about TV once in a while

As Lord Bell, John Sharkey and Chris Powell entertained the audience at last week's Advertising Asso-ciation conference with their views on the death of tobacco advertising and the relationship between adland and Parliament, the past couple of decades melted away. It could have been the rump of the 80s.

Over in New York, on the same day, it was very much 2012 as Facebook unveiled Timeline for Pages, its mobile plans, Reach Generator and Facebook Offers. Meanwhile, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, attention centred on near field communication and HTML5 apps, while emerging Chinese telecoms brands such as ZTE and Huawei were challenging the mobile market to move even faster.

Back in London, Bell was still insisting that, for all this digital stuff, marketers shouldn't forget that TV is still the most powerful brand-building medium and probably always will be. Despite being entertainingly obdurate, he was easy to dismiss as a throwback. Fashionably easy. Except that he's right. Bell's view isn't one many people are confident enough to share publicly (for fear of being dismissed as a throwback). But his counterpoint to all the social media oxygen was a guilty delight.

And there's new stats from Nielsen to support his case, showing that TV ad revenue came in at a record £4.36 billion last year, while average linear viewing figures matched the 2010 record of 28 hours and 14 minutes. Thinkbox, TV's marketing body, reckons the overall ad market was up by 1.5 per cent last year, so TV has increased its share of ad revenue for the fourth consecutive year.

I don't suppose that Thinkbox will be rushing to sign Bell up as a poster boy for the medium. But at a time when it is hard to find many (who aren't paid to do so) bold enough to use a public platform to rave about TV rather than social media, Bell was a deliciously subversive reality check.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty's new ad for The Guardian is a fantastic 90-second film that illustrates how The Guardian is no longer a newspaper but a multi-media, interactive brand (that clearly recognises the power of good old TV advertising). London's most brilliant creative says he really wishes his agency had done it, it's so good. And I haven't met anyone who hasn't raved about the commercial.

Yet look online at anonymous posts from the industry and you'll find a lot of carping about how, in the good old days, this would just be considered a good ad, not a great one.

I'm all in favour of kicking a bad ad when it's down, but it's time to be more generous about the best work. If the ad industry doesn't believe in itself, how can it persuade clients, government and the public that its work is worth paying attention to and celebrating?

claire.beale@haymarket.com

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