Art directors and account managers seeking to boost the fortunes of their online advertising agencies have a new challenge: create the first “anti-advertising” video ad and win class time or $5,000-worth of video equipment from a Filipino film institute.
An anti-ad ad for advertising art directors?
Say, what? An anti-advertising advertisement? Isn’t that an oxymoron? The contest isn’t quite as hostile to the advertising industry as it at first appears; it’s not about putting the jobbing art director or account manager out of work, it’s about encouraging the production of pleasanter and more relevant ads. So says Till Faida, managing director of the “creativechallenge.org” project, which is sponsored by ad-whiteout software company Adblock Plus.
Faida, who has a background in online marketing, says he’s not against ads generally, just “annoyed by the current state of ads.” He thinks they can do a lot better.
Applications for the contest will be accepted until the end of May, so art directors might want to get busy sooner rather than later.
From white-out to white-list
The initiative signals a significant change of direction for Adblock Plus: having recently converted into a profit-making firm, it’s acknowledging that advertising keeps many publications in business. Now it’s on a mission to encourage better ads, not wipe them out. Given that its software is enthusiastically used by some 45 million people who appear to get a buzz out of magically making ads seem to disappear from the net, this is quite a timely recognition of advertising’s crucial role.
Although Adblock Plus still takes donations from its users, it’s getting serious about monetizing and negotiating deals with big websites: run unobtrusive, well-crafted ads, and the software won’t automatically white them out. They’ll be white-listed instead. Social news site Reddit is amongst those who have signed up to such a deal, although no details have yet emerged about the financial terms.
The new contest has been created to diversify the Adblock Plus community, with more designers taking part (the firm wants contributions from creatives instead of exclusively from computer programmers).
But in an interview with the New York Times, Faida (who lives in Cologne, Germany) conceded that, with hindsight, pitching the contest as “anti-advertising” probably wasn’t the best strategy.
He said, “Maybe we should have had a native speaker reading behind us.”