Friday, September 25, 2009


I used to write a blog other than Ad Aged which gave full vent to an alter ego of mine, Soupy Weinstock, a retired 84-year-old rabbi. One of the reasons I kept this blog and have this alter ego is that things are just so dumb sometimes. And when I rail against them, I sound like an old Jewish man. So rather than admitting I am an old Jewish man, I created one to speak for me.

That said, Rabbi Soupy Weinstock has been on hiatus for about two years, though he's never stopped rattling around in my cranium saying things that need to be said but that are hard to say because they immediately categorize you as "old." (When did sensible become synonymous with old?)

One of those things that annoys Rabbi Weinstock is headlines that restate the obvious as if it is news. You find a lot of these in the Science section of The New York Times, and of course on the front pages of our esteemed advertising trade journals. Headlines like "Autumn's Falling Leaves Mean Gravity Still Has Pull." That one I made up, but how's this from Ad Age? "Hispanic Creatives Just Want to Be Revered for Creative Ability". Oh. Or this one from Adweek "Alex Bogusky on Wonders of Saliva-Free CPR". Mindless, banal, insipid. To steal from Neil Postman, we are trivializing ourselves to death.

Jeepers, here we are in a contracting industry that's seen erosion in every area possible. There will be no "Mad Men" based on our 21st Century antics. We are no longer cool. As an industry we have not consistently proven the value of what we do, so we can no longer demand proper fees for the value we reputedly add. In response we create awards shows and then create ads just for those awards shows to show how clever we are in the hopes that giant corporations will want us as court jesters.

When the industry convenes as it is this week during Advertising Week little of import is being discussed. I think of us as Lace Cutters in 1830 who were all replaced by machines just ten years hence. Or black and white television manufacturers. Yet we'll talk about Twitter endlessly or social media, not the aforementioned seismic changes and not about how to achieve the sort of multi-channel marketing that might actually move people.

(I said this was a diatribe.)

I can't help thinking that as an industry we act like the women in our offices who wear next to nothing, flip-flops in October and skimpy outfits and then complain that the office is cold. So put on a sweater already. In other words, grow up.

No, instead we enshrine the AOL running man (what's AOL?) into yet another asinine Advertising Hall of Fame, pat ourselves on the back, pad our expense accounts in the front and go on hoping against hope that 1985 will come back and all this new media shit will disappear.

There's another headline in Adweek that, in the words of Henry Wiggen, really rubs my goat the wrong way. "Consumers Choose Quality Over Price". We as marketers know that this is a simple human truth, yet we have allowed industry after industry to be commoditized--where everything is sold on price. Phones. Travel. PCs. Cameras. Banking. Printers. And the low prices we tout are so laden with asterixes and caveats that they are not believed by anyone.

But that's what we do.


Teenie said...

Reminds me of a news bit I overheard yesterday: "The accused wore an ankle bracelet on his ankle." Um--as opposed to around his head?

I'm watching a fair amount on TV these days, and I don't understand how so many unbelievable (and I say that in its true meaning-something you simply cannot believe in) commercials are being made. Smiling kids lapping up canned spaghetti sauce, ecstatic men and women pushing new drugs, fake families praising vaseline products...

Who believes in these contrived scenarios? What happened to a great idea selling a solid benefit? "Reality" TV is changing ads, too--but don't ask me who's buying into it.

Kelly said...


P.S. I was born old (so says everyone *sigh*), so I completely understand wondering why good sense+a little crankiness at no one else having any=old. LOL. Been wondering that for years.