Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Detroit in the news.

For the first time in history, America automakers have been outsold in the US by import nameplates. To be specific, 51.9% of vehicles sold in the US in July were imports; 48.1% were domestic.

Why is this important in a blog on advertising? Well, the basic premise behind Ad Aged is that unless it changes course dramatically, traditional Madison Avenue is heading down the same road toward obsolescence as the American auto industry. I think the parallel between Detroit and Madison Avenue makes sense for a number of reasons.

1. Detroit never adjusted to overseas competition. They hoped their size and history would keep the imports at bay. Traditional Madison Avenue is acting similarly.

2. Detroit valued hyperbole and exhortation over honest informative discourse. Mad Ave does too. (It was Detroit and Mad Ave together who hoped to sell Buicks via Tiger Woods as spoke-shill, like anyone anywhere would believe Tiger Woods drives a Buick.)

3. Detroit never retooled, ie. their factories, their production systems, their supply chains never adjusted to the speed of either their competition or the market. Ditto Mad Ave traditional.

4. Detroit never really wavered from Henry Ford's belief in "any color as long as it's black." Madison Avenue hasn't really budged from its belief in any media as long as it's a :30.

I could go on. But you get the point. Or don't you?

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