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Advertising, Change, and Challenge

Last spring, Tim Love, vice chairman of Omnicom Group, gave a speech called “Advertising and Universal Compatibility: Does the Advertising Industry Have a Moral Conscience?” to the students at the Said Business School at the University of Oxford. The talk touched on several very topical issues, from the effects of technology on advertising, to the promise of economic growth in the developing world, and the need to improve literacy among women. I was in the audience and was struck by the impact Tim's talk had, particularly on the students. So I am happy to reproduce the text of the speech in this issue, with the images and videos from the PowerPoint slides at the appropriate junctures.

I have also included short videoclips of Tim actually giving the speech. The original tape was shot very informally, with no changes in lighting or pacing for the potential video audience. Hence, the tape is an immediate record of the actual experience, but is not as slick as we are accustomed to seeing. In spite of these shortcomings in the production values, I chose to insert the clips so that readers could get a sense of the sincerity of the talk, so that some of the off-the-cuff remarks not present in the text could be made available (the Q&A sections with the students are particularly good), and so that there would be a video record of the speech—however dark and blurry—for future scholars to consult.

The impact of Tim's education, as well as his practical experience, is manifest in the content of his speech, the thoughtfulness of his questions, the range of his sources and examples, and the openness of his attitudes. I think educators reading this talk will be pleased to see the value of the training Tim had at the University of Illinois—and how it surfaces, many years later, in the thinking of a leading executive. It shows the importance of what we choose to teach and, especially, how education molds the future of the world. I also think it is important, at this moment of historical significance in the evolution of the world's economy, to document how thoughtful leaders of this industry are looking at the challenges before them. I hope readers will enjoy and learn from the speech and clips—and will forgive the blurriness of the videos.

The original article in this issue, “Dealing with Depression: Australia's Advertising Industry in the 1930s” by Robert Crawford, shows us, in a different way, how important it is for scholars to document the way the leaders of the advertising industry confronted worldwide historical challenges. In Crawford's piece, the challenge is the Depression, the fear is the rise of a worldwide consumer rights movement, and the potential is in the media innovation of the day: radio. The parallels to our own times provide interesting comparisons, as does the interface between the Australian industry leadership with the American experience, showing, once again, that we must not apply the US experience as a paradigm or model for the rest of the world too quickly. Even in the 1930s, the advertising industry was already a global phenomenon, with an emergent world leadership, and the challenges the leaders faced were sometimes present around the planet all at once, but often were extremely localized. This article thus provides us with some perspective on the trajectory led, from an older challenge and media watershed, to the issues outlined by Tim Love.

Linda M. Scott
Editor