There's been some debate in this space of late. About 60s advertising versus today's. And about if old-style advertising would be effective today. This post is not really about that debate. Though it is.
Just now I ran across a couple of sentences in "The New York Times" from an op-ed by David Brooks. His topic is the importance of studying the humanities while in college.
Brooks says, "Studying the humanities improves your ability to read and write. No matter what you do in life, you will have a huge advantage if you can read a paragraph and discern its meaning (a rarer talent than you might suppose). You will have enormous power if you are the person in the office who can write a clear and concise memo."
I agree with that but what really hit me is what came next:
"In an information economy, many people have the ability to produce a technical innovation: a new MP3 player. Very few people have the ability to create a great brand: the iPod. Branding involves the location and arousal of affection, and you can’t do it unless you are conversant in the language of romance."
It seems to me that a lot of what's happened in every quarter of advertising is that there are tons of people who can produce technical innovations. Many of them get ahead by doing so. Many of them have started agencies based solely on their purported ability to analyze data.
There are very few people, in any era who can locate and arouse affection.
But that's what business we're in.
At least that's what business we're in when our business doesn't suck.