Why Advertising?

February 18, 2019

I tuned into the Super Bowl this year around a television in a suburban living room dotted with young advertising professionals. Working across roles in project management, account, and creative at various-sized agencies throughout Minneapolis, we were eager to fiercely debate the effectiveness of the commercials as they played out during what’s become America’s largest public advertising pageant of the year.

Although our consensus was that this year’s Super Bowl ads fell flat (there was no clear champion of craft, like Tide last year), I couldn’t help but feel a bit exhausted. After watching a myriad of flashy, high-end cinematic productions riddled with motion graphics (and so many robots this year), I asked myself, “Why advertising?”. 

That night Super Bowl ads swirled into a greater media headache that had been building up. I was feeling bombarded by the notifications constantly buzzing my phone, the banner ads I click away from, all the texts, emails, snapchats, tweets, stories I swipe through, yet there I was watching commercials (that was regularly interrupted by a football game). With all of the mindless media consumption I do everyday, I wanted to question where there was meaning.

So why am I headed down a career path that appears so endless? For the first time since I declared myself a strategic communication major at the Hubbard School of Journalism , I wanted to be honest with myself.

A few days later, my moment of clarity struck. I was on a crowded bus holding on to a pole as it weaved through the city. I had my headphones on, blasting Roses by the Chainsmokers (my favorite song), watching people outside as they trudged through the snow. Putting my phone in my pocket for a moment and looking out to an ephemeral world full of people, I found the answer to what I was looking for:

Advertising exists at the delicate intersection of art and society: where human advancement and achievement dance with design and emotion. Advertising paints out our dreams through the things we desire to be. Advertising is a craft: one that tells stories, draws emotion, keeps our hands and minds busy, but ultimately connects cultures and people, grounding us to a very fleeting and vibrant moment in time.

That’s why.