Monday, December 3, 2018

The slow painful death of advertising

Last week I read about the demise of J. Walter Thompson.

Perhaps demise is too strong a word. My understanding is the parent company was going to merge JWT with a sister company from the WPP, Wire Plastic Products, either the Dixie Cup Division or that plant in Dayton, Ohio that makes those little eyelets for your shoelaces.

The point is, the famed and storied J. Walter brand will be famed and storied no more. Which could not possibly please the Captain. Or was it the Commodore? Or Commandant? One of those extremely gentile titles.

I spent a miserable year of my early advertising life working for JWT.

Miserable because I never felt any attachment to the crusty culture of the organization. But over and above that, I was working for Thompson Recruitment, the agency that did HELP WANTED ads for Fortune 500 companies.

In the echelons of creative agencies, this wasn't even the minor leagues. We were more like water boys for the Babe Ruth Pony League. If memory serves, the best headline I wrote was for Northrop or Rockwell or TRW (they were all the same and they were desperately looking for Mechanical or Fluid Engineers.)


Copywriting gold, huh?

But that wasn't the only bad WPP news last week. Another of their agencies (another former employer) Young & Rubicam, was also consigned to the dustbin of history.

"Looking for high quality, durable Dustbins? Come on down to Dustbin Depot. We have dustbin containers of all shapes and sizes. All marked down 30% for the holidays. When you think of Dustbins think of Dustbin Depot, a proud WPP company."

No less white, homogeneous and staid in their ways than JWT, I somehow had a better fit at Y&R. And actually did some good work there, though I will forever be haunted by this monumental piece of crap.

It's not easy watching the pillars of your resume crumble like the current disassembling of institutions of Democracy. Disconcerting as it all may be, I'm not in any way going to get emotional about it.

That's one of the benefits of being a 44 year old man. You take on a wiser perspective on things.

I save my rage for when one of my daughters neglects to have the oil changed in the car.

Or the old man up the street decides to walk his dogs, without wearing a shirt.

Or heavens-to Betsy, there's no bourbon left in the liquor cabinet.

That's something to get upset about.

1 comment:

View From Madison Avenue said...

WPP, since its inception, has actually slowly and surely caused the death of advertising as we once knew it. This is just icing on the cake.