This is “Preface”, article 3 from the book Advertising Campaigns: Start to Finish (v. 1.0).
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I believe today’s marketing model is broken. We’re applying antiquated thinking and work systems to a new world of possibilities.
Jim Stengel, former Global Marketing Officer, Procter & Gamble
Yes, the model may indeed be broken—but there’s still time to fix it! And we can say the same about the model we use for college education. The textbook publishing industry is undergoing staggering change as many traditional business models and practices quickly lose relevance. Peer-to-peer textbook trading networks, online used-book sellers, and a gray market that allows low-priced international editions to displace expensive U.S. texts push publishers to reconsider outmoded ways of delivering content. Likewise, the digital natives who comprise our university student bodies (that’s you!) inspire educators to think about the transfer of knowledge in exciting new ways.
How do we best communicate the most current thinking in our disciplines to students who expect up-to-the-minute information at a keystroke and who view educational materials as community—indeed, world—resources that can and should be shared and interactively constructed?
Enter Unnamed Publisher, an innovative, open source publishing company. We’ve created a new kind of text—one premised on the idea that college course material can wield wider influence and be of greatest public benefit as it becomes easily and inexpensively available to anyone with a desire to learn. We think it’s a really cool new alternative to introductory texts that can cost into three figures and provide information that is extraneous or outdated.
Advertising can be fun. A great ad can bring tears to your eyes. Another piece can be obnoxious. Ads influence our desires and beliefs about the world in profound ways (for better or worse).
Advertising is definitely a lot harder to do than you’d think. But most of all, advertising is REAL. It happens in real time by real people who want to reach other real people. Really!
Too bad you’d never know that when you read a lot of traditional advertising textbooks. They give you the nuts and bolts (that you get to memorize) but they don’t build anything exciting with them. Get real: Welcome to the first advertising textbook written in partnership with a real-life advertising agency. It’s fine to talk about ad campaigns from the past, but we’d rather hear about one from the horse’s mouth—while it’s still happening. We’re going to teach you about the ad biz the way you’ll learn it if you choose to make it your career (and we hope you do). None of that shiny, happy “talking heads” stuff; we’re going to take the gloves off and show you how a campaign works (and sometimes doesn’t) from the vantage point of the people who have to do it every day.
Sure, we agree that you need to understand about the nuts and bolts of advertising in order to build a strong ad campaign—and to know when it’s time to bring in the wrecking ball and start over. In Launch! you’ll get all that. And you’ll get a lot of it directly from those who work with these tools every day as if their jobs depended on it (because they do). Our friends at SS+K, a hot advertising agency based in New York and Los Angeles, share our belief that the type of people they want to hire out of school should have a solid grounding in the nuts and bolts—but they also need to appreciate that there are times the pristine blueprint for the building has to be modified to meet the demands of an ever-changing media environment.
This textbook isn’t like any other you’ve seen or used before—though you may start to see our ideas popping up in other courses as our new approach to publishing takes off. For now, though, consider yourself a pioneer who is exploring the brave new flat world. Here’s what you’ll discover as you start to poke around:
The price: Let’s start with the pocketbook difference to be sure we’ve got your attention. Launch! is much more affordable than your typical textbook. We like to make a profit as much as the next guy, but we also think things are getting out of control when it comes to spiraling book prices. Many textbooks today sell you a huge pie that’s bursting with goodies like videos, practice quizzes, and even chapters your professor won’t have time to cover during the course. It’s a yummy treat to be sure, but it’s designed for unrealistic appetites—and it comes with an equally high-calorie price tag. Our philosophy is to provide value (and yes, get paid for it)—but we want to let the user decide just what pieces of the pie to buy and when to eat them.
The contents: If you watch the hit TV show 24, you know that what you see happens in real time (Jack Bauer and his buddies have some busy days!). Launch! is like that (without the explosions). It’s built around an actual advertising campaign for SS+K’s client msnbc.com—a campaign that continues to evolve even as you read this. You’ll read, see, and hear about the campaign from many of the people who actually did the work (including one member of our humble author team). That means that the Table of Contents is organized a bit differently than “old world” texts. The chapters follow the campaign’s timeline—you’ll see this timeline at the beginning of each chapter. It’s a convenient way to keep track of where you are and where you’re going as you accompany the SS+K folks on their perilous mission.
You’re also going to learn about a lot more than old school TV and radio advertising. Think about where you get the 411 about what’s happening in your world. It’s likely you’re getting the buzz from your Facebook friends (hopefully not during class) or via the three YouTube videos you’ve already watched today. Maybe you’re even into sending tweets on Twitter rather than reading long blogs that go into excruciating detail about the MP3 tracks someone downloaded yesterday (for free, of course) and all the cosmic insights they’ve had while they listened to the tracks that played while they were doing their laundry. Launch! leaves no media stone unturned; we recognize that while there’s still plenty of life left in traditional media platforms like newspapers (remember them?), a lot of the action is in “new media” such as social networking sites (like Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn) and virtual worlds like Second Life and Gaia Online. There’s also a lot of exciting new stuff happening in interactive media—just wait until you read about the Newsbreaker game SS+K created for people to play together in movie theaters!
The a la carte menu: Remember, unlike your other textbooks you’re not plunking down big bucks to buy a huge, hard-to-digest pie. You’re ordering a la carte so you can pick and choose those pieces that your professor and you think will fill you up without giving you indigestion. For more information on how to build your customized text check out the Unnamed Publisher Web site.