Here’s to the New Ad. Same as the Old Ad

In the early seventies, the only popular music that people took seriously was known as Progressive Rock.

Its principle protagonists were the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Yes.

They produced albums with big concepts and big ideas.

(And big hair and big guitar solos.)

It took itself very seriously.

In contrast, pop music was considered quick-fire throwaway and frivolous fun.

Only David Bowie, Roxy Music and Marc Bolan managed to bridge the gap.

Then, in late 1976, something interesting began to happen.

Out of the clubs and pubs of London, a new sound and attitude began to emerge.

It was fast, furious, frenetic and angry and its bands had rough hewn names like The Damned, The Clash and The Sex Pistols.

It was everything that Progressive Rock wasn’t.

Progressive Rock was all about long hair and flared jeans.

Punk was short hair and drainpipe jeans.

Progressive Rock placed a lot of importance on virtuosity and musicianship.

Punk didn’t care if you could play your instrument or not.  One ad at the time suggested that if you knew three chords you should form a band.

At a Progressive Rock gig, the audience came to “dig” the music. It was so laid back as to be comatose.

In contrast, a punk gig was an anarchic moss pit of writhing bodies; people were literally bouncing off the walls.

It was so iconoclastic that many thought it had irrevocably changed the world of music forever and would sweep away everything that had come before it.

Only it didn’t.

Within three years, punk had mutated into New Wave, a watered-down, sanitized version of its former self.

Where once Johnny Rotten had put fear into the hearts of the establishment we now had Billy Idol snarling coyly on the newly founded MTV.

Essentially, punk rock was assimilated into the mainstream.

It didn’t replace what came before.

It redefined it.

Punk rock reminds me a lot of New Media.

When it first burst onto the scene ten years ago, it seemed fresh and revolutionary.

Newly minted “experts” said it would sweep away traditional advertising.

TV was dead, radio was dead (again), print was dead.

Only they weren’t.

And they never will be.

Instead, what has happened is that social media is has quietly been assimilated into the marketing mix, its more shrill and outrageous claims for reach and influence resoundingly debunked.  

This is not to say that social media hasn’t had an effect, it’s fundamentally changed our daily viewing habits.

It’s just that its impact on other media is a lot less radical than many people thought.

It certainly isn’t going to replace TV.

Or radio. Or outdoor. Or print.

Who knows, in a couple of years time it too may come under threat from a new media revolution that threatens to replace it.

How will that turn out, I wonder?

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