Oprah’s epic car giveaway. An invisible paint that glows when light shines on it. You might not realise it, but these are advertisements. Lifepaint was central to a road safety campaign targeted at improving visibility of road cyclists – and part of Volvo’s marketing efforts to reinforce its image as a brand that values safety. As for Oprah’s, or rather, General Motors’, gift of 276 Pontiac G6s – the fact that the video clip of the giveaway is still being circulated on Youtube a decade later says a lot.

Tor Myhren’s – the creative mind behind Winfrey’s giveaway and the current worldwide chief creative officer at Grey Advertising – knows all too well that the way content is consumed across different platforms today has changed advertising. It’s no longer just about TV spots and ad pages. Instead, it is all about creating a clever concept, and letting social media spread it.

Yet, while the advertising industry now has tools to reach every touchpoint, technology has also sped up the consumption of information and made such contact even more fleeting. Myhren aims for more than that. “Even if something – a video, an image or a line – doesn’t stick around for long, what is important is to be part of a social conversation, and, hopefully, for the message to stay in the minds of the consumers beyond the conversation.”

Tor Myhren (photo credit: shootonline.com)

The interactive nature of social media is also pushing corporations to rethink their advertising strategies. “Part of the magic of social media is the immediacy of the response. However, it also means that you have to move very, very fast, and that is very uncomfortable for most brands, especially larger corporations. They need to be a little more comfortable with not having total control when it comes to social media conversation, because that is the new way.”

One thing remains unchanged in this new equation of advertising: people. “People will always be driven by the same things. The tools and methods that we use to get there will change but what motivates us doesn’t. As marketers, we get too caught up in micro targeting – we need to catch this person at this time of the day when he is thinking about this. But I guarantee you that any good campaign is tied to how it appeals to people’s emotions and core motivations.”