Thursday, March 1, 2012

Weak Thinks

Maybe you caught this last week on the Colbert report. Or maybe you saw it on, where one incredibly witty and succinct anonymous tipster sent it in.

If you haven't, take a few moments for some must see TV.
Particularly if you're in the ad biz.

Colbert masterfully skewers the concept of brand standards and the notion that a snacking cracker is anything more than a snacking cracker. It is, for those of you who have suffered at the hands of Planning, funny because it is true.

When I go to a party and tell people what I do for a living they often say, "Cool, coming up with ideas for commercials, that sounds like fun." And it is fun.

The hard part of my job is not coming up with the ideas or solutions, the hard part of my job is sitting with a dozen or so undereducated, overconfident "executives" who have no idea how to define the problem. The kind of folks who spew out this kind of marketingese.

I know for instance that if I were given the assignment to come up with ideas for Wheat Thins it would have very little to do with portraying Wheat Thins as "a connector of like-minded people, encouraging sharing" or as "a snack for anyone who is actively seeking experiences."

Human beings are, by definition, actively seeking experiences. When I wake up in the morning I actively seek the toilet for the urinating experience. Then I actively seek the shower for the cleansing experience. Then I actively seek the closet for the dressing experience. Do you see where this is going? It's a meaningless phrase.

Right now I am actively seeking a writing experience that will adequately vent my rage at this unabashed popcockery.

And yet somewhere, sometime, somebody committed that profound thinking to paper. And it was agreed upon by other addlebrained MBAs, whereupon it earned their blessing and found its way into the accepted brand standards.

The sad thing is I've sat in hundreds of meetings listening to this kind of nonsense. And until I hang up my copywriting cleats, I'll probably sit in a hundred more.

Years ago, probably about the same time I decided to a make it as a freelance writer and not as staff guy, one of the fuses on my bullshit meter went on the fritz. I never replaced that fuse.

I probably never will.


Jeff said...

Somewhere, a 24-year old planner with a British accent knit cap and an MBA is saying how much he likes your post, but feels it doesn't connect with the consumer on an emotional level relevant to their everyday experience. But the good news is he's happy to give you more input.

glasgowdick said...

Yeah, because the best source of insight into American culture comes from some blowhard, clove-smoking ex-pat who thinks he understands the working class 'cause he drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Dan V said...

I've no doubt the memo could be real. However, the fact that they used Colbert and advertised on his site make me think there is at least a slim possibility that there is someone at Nabisco or their agency who crafted the memo to be purposefully absurd.

BrendaKilgour said...

Perhaps you meant to say "overeducated." Because my experience in FMCG advertising is that the clients usually have much more impressive academic credentials than either the creative or the account folks, which is one of the reasons planning took root in the first place.