Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Up-Hill Struggle: Advertising agency Hill Holliday has a blog, Rethinking Marketing, that seems to be built around the idea that once you’ve rethought it you’ll come to the conclusion that we had it right all along: advertising is the be-all-and-end-all.

Okay, that’s a bit unfair. But I did come across a post by Ernie about the decision by ABC to make popular shows such as Lost and Desperate Housewives available free for download with the commercials intact—an alternative to the iTunes offer, which involves nominal payment in exchange for commercial-free versions of these shows.

Ernie says: “If it works, well, advertising gets a stay of execution and the new media doomsday that some have been predicting will be averted.” I suppose he’s right, though not perhaps as right as he thinks. People like me, for whom the $1.99 per episode download cost is no great burden, will choose to avoid ads; people in less fortune economic circumstances will have less choice. But that has serious implications for the demographics of ad-watching, and for the further division of society into haves and have-nots.

By the way, the post also contains this puzzling tidbit: “The irony of it is that for a time, the Brits tried to charge license fees for the BBC. Didn’t catch on. Ultimately, advertising ended up carrying the day.” Ernie may want to call one of his Brit friends, because “for a time” is actually from long before I was born until, err, right now. I just renewed my television license in the U.K., it still pays for the BBC, and the Beeb is still (thankfully) commercial free—and due to the fact that it’s supported by license fees, arguably the most truly independent television channel in the world. How much longer before we can say it caught on?

Finally, I came to the Hill Holliday blog via this review of the agency’s Dunkin Donuts work at Slate. Just so happens, I love these ads and their infectious They Might Be Giants theme music. So did the reviewer.

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