Tuesday, December 16, 2014
RoundSeventeen presents another post on RoundSeventeen
I have a bone to pick about advertising.
I know that's shocking.
But the cardinal rule of journalism is, "If it bleeds it leads."
So what has crawled up my butt and deemed itself worthy of a diatribe today? It's this notion of "branding". More specifically, the idea that every commercial should start with a brand identifier in the first few seconds. And by the way, exposure does not equal persuasion. Not by a long shot.
I was at Chiat/Day when this pedanticism was born. I distinctly remember the day when an eager Account Director, tried to gussy up this client dictate and dropped the stinkbomb on my boss:
"The CMO at Sony had a great idea. And wants us to start every PlayStation spot with a Playstation mnemonic. Isn't that great?"
"What?", said Jerry with unusual resistance.
In case you hadn't noticed, they never walked away from that mandate. In fact, they started an ugly trend. Today, commercials for cars, beers, phones and insurance companies, all begin with a navel-gazing logo, sound or hamfisted branding device.
As a result, they have taken an important tool, perhaps our most engaging, out of the hands of copywriters and art directors -- storytelling.
Imagine going to see a stand up comedian who begins every joke with the punchline. I'm not sure you'd stick around for the two drink minimum.
The same laws of set-up, prologue and tension building hold true for the crafting of commercials. But no one, it seems, wants to hold their cards until the end.
"Make the logo bigger" has been replaced with, "get to the logo earlier."
Let's say it's January 22, 1984. It's the third quarter of the Super Bowl. The Raiders are up 21-3 over the Washington Redskins. A 60-second black and white commercial begins with…
"Ap - ple."
SFX: MUSICAL STING
And instead of being captivated by a mysterious dystopic vision of the future and the unveiling of a desktop computer that would change the course of history, 25 million Americans take this blatant commercial cue and decide it's a good time to take a whiz.
1984 isn't like 1984.
Apple doesn't get $10 million worth of free publicity.
The Mac dies a quick death. And for good measure takes the entire company to the grave as well.
There's never an iPod, an iPad or an iPhone.
And you're reading this on your IBM Homeputer 9000™. That is, if you figured out how to reformat the C: drive and have your modem hardwired to the Gates Worldwide Interweb Complex a/123.