We visited some friends recently who had just finished painting their living room. Naturally, as guests and being of excessive politeness, we said it looked beautiful. Unable to let a sleeping dog lie however, I made further inquiry.
"What color was it before?"
"It was Snowbound White 7004."
"We went with Toque White 7003."
"Lovely. Just lovely."
And that, in a nutshell is where we are at in Advertising 2016.
Trying to move an apathetic, largely-disinterested audience with fragmented media and a monumentally-bland message that is barely two Angstrom units to the right or left of the same incomprehensible strategy used by the nearest competitor.
Witness the Lexus commercials that look like Acura commercials.
Coke spots that could easily be mistaken for Pepsi spots.
And Windows ads that bear an uncanny resemblance to those from Apple.
(Though to be fair that seems to be MicroSoft's entire modus operandi.)
I'm happy to take money from clients and marketers who think terms like Motivated Achievers or Ambitious Challengers or Extroverted Innovators are useful demographic delineators.
Or agencies who believe their insightful one-of-a-kind briefs are different than another agency's identical insightful one-of-a-kind brief.
Or anyone who thinks they can build a successful brand with tweets, Insties and Snapfaps™.
The truth is they're all playing in the same sandbox. And at some point, the turd left by the cat has to be removed.
It's all such small ball.
And maybe when you're dealing with parity products and parity services it's impossible to raise the flag of true differentiation. But hell, what happened to swinging for the fences? To saying something nobody else was saying? And doing it in a way no one was else was doing?
The other truth is, if you're not doing something radically different, you're doing everything radically wrong.
But I don't expect anything to change. And until then, I'll just keep creating social media scavenger hunts that will never get produced. Conjuring up brand activation stunts that will never get activated. And writing meaningless, micro-targeted TV spots aimed at Perseverant Non-Traditional Influencers.
Whatever the fuck that means.