Why has advertising gone so meta?

A recent spate of ‘anti’ advertising suggests we’re all a bit bored of traditional TV spots and salesy billboards. But is this just lazy creativity, or a genuine attempt to capture people’s attention?

Back in 2013, Brewdog founder James Watt expressed his true feelings about advertising, telling Campaign: “I would rather take my money and set fire to it. It’s the antithesis of everything we stand for and everything we believe in. It’s a medium that is shallow, it’s fake and we want nothing to do with it.”

So it’s perhaps no surprise that when the beer company did, inevitably, make its first TV ad, it took a slightly different approach – adopting advertising’s methods, but hiding them beneath a veneer of rebellion. And there’s no doubt that when the spot debuted, during a Game of Thrones TV break earlier this year, it did the job and got people’s attention. Billed as “the most honest ad you’ll ever see” it offered a stark alternative to the glossy films and contrived narratives that fill the TV break.