Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Anger Mismanagement

Anger has gotten a bad name.

Given a choice, most employers would fire an angry employee before an incompetent employee (I know this from experience.) We suppress anger. We hide it from our kids. We walk away from anger when, at least when it comes to advertising, we should be embracing it.

Take for example Apple's 1984 commercial, largely the centerpiece of the new Steve Jobs movie.

Regarded as the best commercial ever committed to celluloid, the spot hinges on anger. When viewing the first rough cut, no one said, "Does she have to be so angry?" Without her frustration, boiled to perfection, there is no spot.

Another example, and one that never fails to make me laugh, is a classic Skittles spot.

This is so pitch perfect I don't know where to begin.

Neither, it appears, do any of today's marketing whizzes. Because the moment a client catches the slightest whiff of anger in a script, or a performance, or even in the enthusiastic defense of an idea, the review instinct kicks in and the call to a new agency consultant is made.

That's how averse we have become to anger.

As a result we are left with an endless stream of formulaic commercials in every variety of mind numbing cheeriness:

Bite & Smile
Drive & Smile
Wipe & Smile
Get a Free Credit Report & Smile
Furnish a Living Room & Smile
Get Unlimited Text & Data & Smile

and of course,

Conquer Erectile Dysfunction Sit in a Clawfoot Tub & Smile.

But the truth is, happiness is cheap. It's boring. And does nothing to spark my interest. Whereas anger is real. Authentic. And when left in its purest undistilled form, the most entertaining.

When I turn to Yelp or Glassdoor or any of the consumer generated review sites, the one star reviews are so much more compelling and informative than the 5 star reviews. I could spend an entire morning in bed, cozied up with a warm blanket and nonstop stream of well-crafted, steaming disgruntled employee invective.

If clients were smart they'd tap into this largely unused emotion and beat their competitors to the punch with spots that have a built-in organic truth. But my experience tells me clients, and many creative directors, are not smart and will always default to the pre-digested bite size nuggets of non-confrontational conformity.

And that has always, and will continue to, made me angry.

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