Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One more thing I hate.

Lately I've written two posts that enumerate some things I hate. Mostly I wrote those posts because I was stuck and couldn't get more complete thoughts together; so until I did I used these lists as a holding pattern of thoughts. I knew something was bugging me, something I really abhor, but I couldn't put my finger on it so I wrote around it until my thoughts coalesced.

Well, consider me congealed.

This is a simple business populated by people who try to make it difficult. What I hate more than anything is complication and complicators.

The account on which I toil is engaged in a "re-boot." We are looking at who the "brand is." What are our strengths, weaknesses, permissions to believe, unique selling propositions, competitive set and so on.

The people who do this for a living have been doing it for nearly seven weeks now. They have come up with 72 powerpoint slides that parse the problem into more sections than an artichoke has leaves. What they haven't done, despite all their mental peregrinations, is tell me anything common sense didn't reveal seven weeks earlier. What's more, they haven't found anything interesting. Anything differentiating. Anything that could make someone laugh or cry. Or even care.

What they've done so far is determine what the problem is.

But advertising isn't just about problems. We should come up with solutions. (Years ago I heard the president of Mercedes-Benz say, "a car should make you feel ten pounds lighter and ten years younger." That's a solution. Talking about a carburetor isn't.

I hate to engage in reductio ad absurdum, but sometimes you have to.

I know some people who've been charged with selling a computer that costs two to three times as much as its competition and in large measure isn't compatible with that competition.

They're fucked, correct? How do you, in this impecunious era, sell a more expensive, less useful machine?

I dunno.

Ask the folks who sell Macs.

Or, to borrow a mantra from a recent IBM campaign: Stop talking. Start doing.

So here's my point to complicators.
99% of all problems go away when you do something.
It doesn't have to be perfect. Just make it as good as you can.
But do something.


Anonymous said...

Better say nothing than nothing to the purpose. ........................................

Mummy Addled said...

Tell who the client is and we can do some useful guerilla research on your behalf... have any planners popped down to the mall and tried to buy it, for instance?

Anonymous said...

George, the ad industry always has been and always will be an industry run by idiots. Smart people do something productive and interesting with their lives. Ad folk obsess over useless little facts that help no one. We, in truth, do nothing good for society. It's time to give it up.

george tannenbaum said...

Anonymous, I'd be happy to.
Need the money though.

wyatt said...

so does this mean I can start showing my butt crack again?

Kelly said...


The troubles with the account:

1. There really *is* no difference between them and all the others until you get down to a human level. The folks who buy from them don't buy from them, they buy from individual humans they trust with everything.

And IMO people are sick of corporate ads claiming to have individual humans you can trust with everything in their big faceless company. Tricky, but knowing your talents, I imagine you've pulled that rabbit out of your hat before. So assuming you can get around that...

2. Timing is everything... No. body. likes 'em anymore. The whole darned lot of 'em. Without some pleasant associations from 10,000 feet, you don't get close enough to one individual to decide to trust. They've been without a USP for a long time, and now, they're part of "the whole darned lot of 'em," sinking with the ship.

Of course, those are probably two of the non-complicated things common sense told you weeks ago.

Looking at that problem is a lot easier than jamming out a solution. Hence, complicators on the account win for a while.

When they finally let you come up with it, it'll be a hell of a solution.



P.S. Another thing I hate! The phrase "from 10,000 feet."