For most of the past 100 years, if a marketer said he needed a new advertising campaign, everybody knew what that meant. The machine turned on. The marketer called the agency of record’s account team. The account team composed a brief capturing the strategy and called in the wild and wooly creatives to bring it to life. The writers and designers applied their art to one or more of these four finite canvases: the television commercial, full-page print ad, radio ad or billboard. Maybe they would sprinkle in a few coupons. The public played along, too; with no ad blockers or DVRs, they just consumed advertising (or ignored it) en masse. It all just worked.
But it doesn’t anymore. Now, there is no machine or even consensus on the basic definition of advertising. And that is the source of both opportunity and crisis.