Friday, July 20, 2007

OK, now I'm pissed.

About fifteen years ago I was working for a vaunted creative shop. For whatever reason, some senior account executive invited in a rep from Starch, the commercial testing cabal, to instruct us on how to get a better Starch score.

Now, Ad Age, that quasi-journalistic bastion of the trite and insipid, the doyen of the anti-intuitive, is this week running an article reporting that the Dynamic Logic company has tips for us on online-brand-building. They even include a call-out box with the bold-face heading "The right ingredients for online ads." For those of you reading Ad Aged while in solitary confinement or stuck in a nearly forgotten gulag somewhere and who are dying for something to read, here is the link:
But as the sign said on the way to the witch's fortress in The Wizard of Oz, "I'd turn back if I were you."

The reason I'm outraged about crap like Dynamic Logic is that it will be latched onto by so many purported marketing people. Rules will emerge. Do's and don't's. All of which, I suppose are ok if they do not devolve into absolutism. But you and I both know they will. Clients and internal reviews will be at the mercy of check-lists. In time, except for the talented-tenth of agencies, innovation will be stymied and be replaced by karaoke creative. Formulaic blather. Lack of experimentation.

The key to success in virtually any endeavor is the willingness to fail. I could, but I won't, insert a sports metaphor here.

OK, back to the anecdote I opened with. A famous creative director who later opened his own NY agency which later became a gigantic worldwide company, sat through the Starch meeting. He immediately revised a board he had sold to open with the ringing of a telephone--because according to Starch, such a device would boost a score. The ringing had nothing at all to do with the spot. As Adolph Eichmann said, he was only following orders.


ekaiser2000 said...

What's even more unfortunate is that any self-respecting MBA who paid attention during class would know that research data (Starch or any other data) should always be taken with a grain of salt. Even something as seemingly absolute as numbers can have errors (particularly when measuring something as subjective as opinions).
The talent lies in mixing data with some common sense... enough said.

geo said...

totally agree. the sticking point is "self-respecting." there are more who fit into the ass-covering category.

tore's tour said...

The point is that any hack can hide behind check-lists and research without insights.
And they do.
The only knowledge required is a list of possible research methods to be applied to any idea that may emerge.
And of course a purse to go with it.
they own the accounts that pay our living. Can't bite the hand that feeds us right?
Edgar Alan Poe would have to re-write his books if he had to be focus grouped (yes grouped). Not to mention Shakespeare, who invented a great deal of the English language. If he'd stuck to rules as known before he re-wrote the rules he would have been disregarded as a hack. Rather than the hacks that piggy-back on geniuses.
Listen closely to so called reason and you hear your death knell loud and clear.
Freud spent his life trying to figure out what goes on in our heads. He wasn't particularly succesful, quite frankly - judging by how we still haven't become happier - despite the fame he achieved. We're still struggling with the same questions of who we are and why.
Only in advertising do we know for sure how people will react. Or so some of the leeches in our industry claim. I wouldn't say they're not creative. Their creativity are boundles in their attempt to kill originality. Make them copywriters instead. (Problem is that they would probably copy the dictionary from a to z and call it communication.
Just wish somebody would start to value the art of coming up with ideas as highly as the art of killing ideas.
No wonder we need all those awards shows to judge ourselves. We would feel really shitty w\and worthless without them. They're therapy for a tortured species.
What we need is someone to re-articulate our task.
The way Bill Bernbach did. Or DO did.
But hey, a good education still requires Sokrates. so why not BB and DO when it somes ads?
Have it really changed that much?

tore's tour said...

Has it...sorry.