Monday, October 6, 2014
Oh Advertising, you amuse me
Last week was Advertising Week in New York City. And for the 29th year in a row, I was not in attendance.
As you might expect as a bona fide Kool-Aid hater, I'm not a big fan of conferences, confabs, symposiums, or any type of large gathering that might require me to pee in a stainless steel trough.
I have no interest in any activity that necessitates a printed schedule and wall-to-wall panels and forums.
6:45 --- 10 Reasons Why You're Not Flying Business Class
7:50 --- Sweat Shop Architecture, How to Maximize Profits by Minimizing Employee Footprint
8:35 --- Pizza, The Best and Least Expensive Way To Feed Overtime Workers
Now, I've got to tread lightly here.
Jerry Seinfeld recently gave a scathing speech at an advertising award show and was roundly criticized for his demeaning and snarky tone. He and I share many of the same views on the industry, though his perspective is quite different than mine.
He's a gazillionaire comedian who can afford to bite the hand that feeds him. Hell, if he wanted he could buy Omnicom and Publicis and stage Celebrity CEO Death Matches.
I also like to nibble on the hand that feeds me, but I'm a considerably less-wealthy freelance copywriter and can't afford to exacerbate the situation -- as Jerry did -- by also shitting on the victim's bloodied handless stump.
Truth is, advertising has been, and continues to be, very, very good to me. I've been able to make a decent living simply by being a wise ass. It's like I never left high school.
My problem with Advertising Week and all these expensive extravaganza's, and that includes SXSW, Cannes, etc., is the artifice of it all. It's the willful pretending that what we do, is not what we do.
We're not starting conversations.
No one in their right mind wants to have a conversation with Febreeze.
We're not giving brands a distinctive voice.
The voice of Burger King sounds remarkably like the voice of McDonalds. "Please come in and eat our processed meat-thingies."
And we're not making the world a better place.
15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.
For every ground shaking noteworthy campaign, like the rebirth of Apple or the meteoric rise of Old Spice, there are 10, 000 efforts, maybe 100,000, that made no one smile, cry, laugh, or think. They had zero powers of persuasion. In fact, because they were an insult on intelligence and so poorly crafted, it is more likely these campaigns dissuaded consumers.
You'll never see a panel on that.
The reality is, and 99% of my colleagues who work in the trenches and also never go to these "festivals" will agree, our business is about moving the merchandise.
So when the client says we need to find a better way to say, "There's never been a better time to visit your ________ dealer."
We schedule meetings, do focus groups, write briefs, explore creative alternatives, and then we find a better way to say, "There's never been a better time to visit your ________ dealer."
Or, we just go with what the client wanted.
That's the business we're in.