Monday, November 21, 2016

To quote the President Elect, "Wrong."


The pundits and the prognosticators told us that people felt one way. When in fact people felt the other. The "experts" crunched their numbers over and over again. They reviewed their focus group findings. They crossed their T's and dotted their i's. They stood high on their soapboxes and with uncanny confidence, told us the way it was and the way it was going to go.

And yet it didn't.

If it didn't have such disastrous impact on our country and the country we'll be handing over to our children, I'd be laughing. We're only two weeks into this new administration and the cabinet is already looking like half the cast of Mississippi Burning -- the white half.

The truth is we've seen this type of comical miscalculation before.

In advertising.

My old boss, Jay Chiat, brought many great contributions to our industry, the birth of west coast creativity, an unrelenting demand for excellence, innovations in art and architecture. Planning wasn't one of them.

Since the late 90's we have witnessed the ascent of the planners/strategists. Not only have they been rising, they've been multiplying. Today's typical BDA (Big Dumb Agency) now has Communication Strategists, Brand Strategists, Media Strategists and Digital Content Strategists. If I told you I knew what they did, I'd be lying.

And if I told you I understood their Powerpoint decks with their vast array of polygons, vectors and arrows, and how all that data translates into greater sales of Wheat Thins, disposable razors or underpowered Fiat hatchbacks, well, I'd be lying again.

Perhaps I should count my blessings.

Because the next time I sit in a briefing and hear some horsecockery from our "experts" and feel the need to question the brief or the strategy, I now have additional weapons in my counter argument arsenal.

We used to cite the Seinfeld effect. In focus group after focus group, respondents claimed the show sucked. That it was boring. Or, better yet, it was about nothing.

It was about nothing. And had the network sheeple listened to their highly-paid pollsters, they would have left more than a billion dollars on the table.

Of course, Seinfeld is now a dated Big Data reference. Half the people working in advertising weren't even born when Kramer failed to master of his own domain.

So now, when we want to push back on planning, when we want to question the brief, when we insist on finding our own human truths, we have the bungled election of 2016.

Thank you Nate Silver, you've done us all a great service.

1 comment:

joefeldman said...

Planners aren't the only ones to blame. Creatives want to express a sentiment that comports with their own smug yet limited world view. To some of us who actually pay attention, the Trump victory was not a surprise. But it required listening to all voices. Why do we do focus groups in Beverly Hills Santa Monica, not Rialto or San Bernadino? My guess is that the sushi and wine choices at the facilities there are scoff-worthy.