Advertising: is the very name boxing us in?

All my working life my passport has said Advertising under profession. Every time I enter England they ask me what I do and recently I’ve begun to hesitate. It used to be so clear. We made commercials and we made print ads – we were in advertising.

But what is it now? Can we really call it advertising when we do SEO or make websites or post videos or send emails or build the biggest mobile phone in the world or write scripts for telemarketers or track you on your cellphone? Is this advertising – is it marketing?

Are we held back because of the box of the business we thought we were in? Is the word “Advertising” constricting our thinking? What about the people who make TV shows or movies with Minis in them or Johnny Walker or Miller beer – are they in advertising? Or marketing?

What is the box that we have to think outside of? What is inside it and what is outside it? At a NYMIEG panel recently someone was talking passionately about thinking outside the box and the very very smart moderator Juliet Powell said quietly, “I didn’t think there was a box any more.”