A Note on Digital Marketing:

Kissing Creativity Goodbye & the Digitalization of Advertising

By Andrea Forssberg | Magazine | April 21, 2023

Cover Illustration: Silver Imac on Brown Wooden. Mikael Blomkvist / Pexels 

Magazine writer Andrea Forssberg explores the highly digital era of marketing which emphasizes relevance and trends, rather than creativity. 

Many students come to Amsterdam seeking out the highly ranked university programs the city has to offer. For example, you’ll find the best communication program in the world in the heart of Amsterdam. Many communication students aim for a role in marketing, however, a closer look at the digital shift adds some nuance to the current strategies and the field as a whole. 

Traditional marketing requires more effort from both the consumer and the company; from researching the target audience to planning an effective strategy and brainstorming campaigns, aesthetics and approaches. The consumer was engaged physically through calling a hotline from a television ad, visiting a store to buy a product advertised on a billboard, searching for a brand from a radio feature, the list goes on. Now – while the elements of planning a marketing campaign remains intact, digital marketing allows a post to generate a purchase. Perhaps, it has become too easy. 

Digital marketing has given traditional marketing a complete makeover: it’s faster and cheaper than ever before. Potential customers are no longer flirted with, they are stalked through cookies and then repeatedly asked out. In social media marketing, there is an emphasis on how quick a brand adapts to trends and how fast they can make themselves relevant online. Unfortunately, this overshadows the potential creativity of a campaign as heaps of brands follow every single trend on the market instead of perfecting their own. New brands emerge, relying heavily on aesthetics that look almost identical to a pinterest board and original concepts are hard to come by; the line between inspiration and copy is almost gone. 

Brands are bringing in wingmen to ask us out on their behalf — influencers and user generated content. Through this kind of online marketing, a relatable non-selling point takes center stage. While this landscape of marketing is still developing, the fast-tracking of everything has created a shift from influencer marketing trips to a more authenticity-focused approach. User generated content does not necessarily walk, talk or look like traditional marketing. Yet that’s exactly what it is, and these creators are getting paid too. 

Previously, the selling point was the product itself. Research by Paul Hodkinson mentions the shift from idolatry advertising frame, where emphasis on the products qualities is central towards the mise en scene advertising frame, which focuses on selling an identity and idea.  Marketing is essentially about numbers, centered around the amount of attention, profits and customers gained. While companies have always strived to know their customer, there is no guessing game anymore. Without the challenge of figuring out who might enjoy what or how to target a specific demographic, the creative aspect of marketing is put on hold to make room for enough engagement in an Instagram post. 

On the internet, trends move quickly and relevance is the pre-date perfume that everybody wants to wear. Social media is not made for companies–it has added functions to help them, but it is mainly intended for private actors. Therefore, companies competing for relevance have to act like everyone else on the apps. Through humorous videos, Duolingo and Ryan Air have managed to become the most wanted bachelorettes on TikTok. The pick-up lines have been curated, the perfect date has been planned and the only remaining question is if anyone shows up. 

Brands are bringing in wingmen to ask us out on their behalf — influencers and user generated content.

Andrea Forssberg is a university student in Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer. 

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