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The Modern Age of Advertising: Where Art Meets Medium

The Modern Age of Advertising: Where Art Meets Medium
written by
Planit Agency

Back in the glory days of advertising, simply having the best creative was enough to garner attention. Ads were predictable and the formats they lived on (TV, radio, print, billboards) were in many ways limiting. This meant that simply doing something different from a creative standpoint would let your ad stand out, and bring your company the attention it desired.


The best ads were simply the ones that stood out the most. Take this example, arguably the most famous ad of all time.


When the average advertisement at the time looked more like this, the “Think Small” campaign by Helmut Krone and Julian Koenig (father of Serial’s Sarah Koenig) garnered the attention of readers.


Those days are over, because the ads no longer stop when you turn off the TV or close your magazine. Good advertising today requires more than just great creative to stand out because of the sensory overload the modern world provides. So how do savvy marketers stand out? The answer is that the creative needs to be powered by mediums that help deliver the creative in an effective way to the end user. How does this work in practice? Let’s take a look at a few recent campaigns to see.


Charitable donations are commonly made as an afterthought in today’s world. After checking out at your grocery store they ask if you want a heart on the wall and $2 goes to a charitable organization that you likely don’t remember the name of after leaving the store. How do you incent giving while also making it more real for the person making the donation?

German ad agency Kolle Rebbe leveraged two video screens and credit card swipe technology to seamlessly blend the art and medium:


The act of swiping triggers a video to play that provides an immediate pay off for the donation made by the consumer. Their donation can slice bread which is then taken by a small hand. It breaks the ties that have bound someone. Ultimately it makes the impact of the donation more impactful for the person in question. Not only is the experience a positive one for the person donating, but it also creates a spectacle that could encourage others to support the organization as well.


Super Bowl Party Crashers

Out-of-Home isn’t the only medium ripe for creative executions that are not only beautiful, but also effective. The same methodology can be taken to a medium as formulaic as TV, on a stage as big as the Super Bowl. Obviously buying ads during the big game is a massive expense, but Taco Bell found a way to make a big impact without breaking the bank on multiple national spots:


Quirky local advertisers are often celebrities in their own right. Taco Bell was able to leverage the expectation of cringe-worthy local ads to reinforce their Quesalupa messaging during the big game. Taco Bell’s CMO summarized the strategy thusly, “It’s these people who run their own little fun TV ads or radio ads, and they’re sort of so bad they’re good; everyone knows them – they’re part of your local market culture and lore.” The result is a series of fun localized ads that supported the national ad buy.

Television isn’t the most cutting edge medium to reach people these days, but Taco Bell was still able to do it in a unique and humorous way. Their creative stayed true to the nature of the local ads while still delivering an unexpected message in the form of the Quesalupa.


Fish Where the Fish Are

The U.S. Armed Forces was aiming to recruit talented cryptologists to join the Navy. The problem was that traditional methods weren’t having much success in surfacing the right talent that was needed. The solution was a novel one. The Navy created a Facebook page that presented an alternate reality game that organically developed a significant following among the exact type of people the Navy wanted to recruit. The project leveraged social media as a means to identify potential recruits, though not in the overt way that the platforms in question are typically used:


The campaign include a series of complex puzzles, cyphers, stenographs, and more. Out of these challenges arose dramatic teamwork and more importantly talented recruits. The Navy was able to do this without spending a single dollar on paid media, simply by creating a network of related social media accounts and sending out the coded messages throughout the course of the game.

In order to identify and attract a very niche audience, the Navy had to think outside the box of traditional mediums. They did so by crafting a compelling story with a host of assets that were able to capture the interest of participants. In the end, it was a perfect blend of the right creative execution and medium.


Custom Ads for Custom People

No two people are exactly alike. That’s precisely the idea behind a tourism campaign for Tennessee that features more than 2,000 customized pre-roll video ads. The campaign which ran prior to videos on platforms like YouTube leveraged a huge database of video clips to create a custom Tennessee experience for the viewer.

Not only are the videos beautifully shot, but they also leverage the newest targeting technology to deliver appropriate messaging to each viewer. The video below, for example, is created specifically for Aaron from Louisville, KY who is interested in music and the great outdoors:


The resulting ads from the campaign are always beautiful, often fun, and definitely enticing. For someone living in a nearby area – the campaign targeted nearby cities like Louisville, Atlanta, and St. Louis – a Tennesee trip suddenly seems more appealing. Below is another example, this time focusing on everything there is to see and do in Nashville:


The campaign’s ability to utilize the thousands of video clips means that each pre-roll ad feels personal. This combination of beautiful creative and groundbreaking technology showcases the power of digital when great creative meets the perfect medium.



In today’s highly cluttered world, simply making pretty ads doesn’t move the needle as much as it once did. On the other hand, putting lackluster ads in the right places likely won’t bring the desired result either. It takes the right combination of artfully executed creative and appropriate medium to make waves in today’s fast paced world. Without a doubt, it’s a vexing challenge. The potential rewards if you’re able to solve that problem though, they’re worth all the time and effort spent trying to figure it all out.