GERMANY: SETTING CREATIVE STANDARDS

Media owners really should lead the way with quality ads. So why do they run so much dross, Deneke von Weltzein asks.

Most of the ads for Germany's media products are simply awful. Advertising for TV channels is just an eyesore. Advertising for online media is only slightly better. Advertising for the press is just boring, with a few notable exceptions.

Why is that the case? Media should be leading the way for more creative advertising because that's their currency. If advertising is visually offensive, no-one will look at it, so it will undermine media's very reason for being. So instead, media should be an ambassador for advertising that is fun to look at and does an excellent job in selling products.

TV channels simply don't care. They are far too involved in the battle for ratings and it seems that they would do just about anything to make people watch their shows. Many good agencies have tried but failed, including my own.

Online media, it seems, often doesn't seem to know what it is actually selling. They must let the guys who programme their computers do their advertising too.

But all is not lost. It has become fashionable in magazines to let the reader elect the ads they like most in that particular publication. And readers take part in that game because it's fun and they might win something.

But the goal for publishing houses should be to raise the stakes and improve the overall quality of advertising.

And sometimes they do. If you flick through the pages of the German Art Directors Club annual, you find prestigious publishing houses such as Milchstrassen-Verlag and Axel Springer Verlag with excellent campaigns, which show what media advertising could be like.

So let's take a look at some of the worst offenders. The ad for the TV-Today TV guide sports a headline which says: "Not everything goes according to plan in life. But in the evening it does." Gosh. You can use TV-Today to plan your evening in front of the television. A TV guide! Who would have thought it?

In the Vox ad, the copy translates as: "Where there is a Willis, there's a way." Hmm. Translates rather neatly into English. Maybe it is a good ad after all. But how surprising is it to announce a feature film starring Bruce Willis? It's hardly a point of difference for a TV channel.

But luckily there are some good examples that stand out. These include Bild, which is a tabloid newspaper similar to The Sun. It's a German institution, selling five million copies every day, and is renowned for its outspoken headlines and short stories. This is regarded as a weakness by some of the more discerning members of the German population, as well as advertisers.

The campaign ("If you've got something important to say, don't speak in long sentences") turns this weakness into strength. This particular ad shows the picture of the former chancellor, Willy Brand, asking for forgiveness for German war atrocities in Poland.

The TV ad for Die Welt, by Springer & Jacoby, shows a man in his wheelchair.

He is manoeuvring around people and getting to grips with some other obstacles.

Suddenly his wheelchair gets stuck in some hole in the floor. He gets out of his wheelchair and makes a note on a writing pad. He is actually the architect, testing the design of the building, and represents a new way of thinking, just like Die Welt claims to do. Great work.

These two examples show that effective and hard-hitting advertising for media owners does exist. German agencies' task is to produce more work of this quality for their media owner clients.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).