Nice write up in my hometown media source

As advertising professionals pull out all the stops in their mission to hitch a ride on the zeitgeist, their strategies can at times be hard for outsiders to parse.

That was the problem once faced by Chris Birt, but now when someone furrows their eyebrows as Birt tries to explain himself, the Edina ad man can toss them a 69-page book that does the talking for him.

“Why I decided to write the book is because I got tired of explaining what it is I’m doing to potential clients,” the first-time author said last month as his work, “Awareness Without Advertising,” sat near the top of Amazon’s best-seller list in the category of public relations.

“I felt that the time was right to attach what I’ve been talking about for the last 20 years to a trend that is going on in the advertising world today,” said Birt, 51.

The subtitle of his book is “Making Buzz that Brands. Bravely.”

“Brands are now taking a stand,” Birt said.

For instance, after Colin Kaepernick took his own stand by, ironically, kneeling during the national anthem to protest injustices against people of color, Nike sided with the former NFL quarterback in an ad campaign unveiled last September. Also within the past year, Gillette advertised razors by putting out an ad decrying toxic masculinity.

Whatever observers might think about the social statements, those moves worked, noted Birt, CEO of the ad firm, ABdBUZZ.

“Whether you like it or hate it, everybody knows about the work, and it has clearly created an increase in sales for those brands,” Birt said.

This is what it means to tap into the zeitgeist, he explained. Leveraging the spirit of the times doesn’t only mean speaking to the political left, either, Birt adds. For instance, take Donald Trump and his 2016 election victory that shocked so many.

“His ‘Make America Great Again’ did tap into the zeitgeist,” Birt observed.

The tone reflected in the zeitgeist is also one of weirdness – or “irreverence,” as the ad world calls it – that reflects the non-linear nature of the internet, Birt said. Brands have begun assuming their own first-person Twitter voices, at times venturing into the absurd world of meme culture, in which a single image takes on countless new meanings as it flies across the internet, accumulating layer upon layer of context.

“The web is non-linear. It’s just stuff coming in from all over the place,” said Birt, who called memes themselves “a new form of advertising.”

While the uninitiated might greet his message with blank stares, others are inclined to get the point, even without the aid of his new book.

“The younger the audience,” Birt continued, “the more they understand what I’m talking about.”

– Follow Andrew Wig on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent

 

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