Book: Life After the 30-Second Spot

life after 30 second spot

If published a decade ago, this book would've been revolutionary, five years ago - grounbreaking. Today, it's stating the obvious. If your RSS reader is tuned to the industry blogs (Jaffe's own, for example), most of the things Jaffe writes about are already familiar to you, and your response to the book will fall somewhere in between "this has been said before" and "do we even need to talk about this?"

Then there's the "what the hell is he talking about" type, and that's the people to whom Jaffe addresses his book, although whether he will succeed in changing these minds remains to be seen.

Jaffe is talking about interesting things. The book deals with The Big Question - what's next - and the next are the ten approaches that Jaffe says will steal the TV spot's thunder and money. He makes a solid case for each, although the distinctions at times feel somewhat unclear (Internet and search are profiled separately, and so are branded entertainment and long-term content). One of the most interesting parts of the book deals with DVRs, and Jaffe looks beyond the horizon to recognize TiVo as advertisers' friend that will bring the effectiveness of online context advertising to the TV screen through ads on demand.

This 275-page necrologue of the 30-second spot covers a lot of ground and as a result has more width than depth, which will suit generalists but will leave specialists craving for more. There's plenty left for a potential sequel; packaging and point-of-sales being the prime candidates.

The examples Jaffe uses to support his arguments are as recent as this year's, which makes the book feel fresh and read more like a long magazine feature. The author coins a couple of new acronyms, the most prominent of which is RUE (relevance, utility, entertainment), which is Jaffe's alternative to ROI as an effectiveness metric. He also throws in a couple of signature soundbites, such as "Today, some 65 year later after it [the 30-second spot] was first used, it is like Sean Connery - still sexy as hell but not much of a long-term prospect." The venerable and perhaps unavoidable "I don't know which half of my advertising is wasted" quote will comfort the traditionalists among you.

On his blog, Jaffe mentions that he'd love for this book to be used in classrooms, and that's where this book fits best. A concise, well written overview of the future of advertising, Life After 30 would be like Darwin's "The Origin of Species" in a system dominated by the intelligent design theory.

Joseph Jaffe's Life After The 30-second Spot sells on Amazon for around $20. Published by John Wiley & Sons in May, 2005. Visit for a synopsis, updates and an entire chapter.

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