Wednesday, June 16, 2010


One of the strange and horrid phenomenons of modern life is that we seem to have eliminated, or tried to eliminate causality. For instance, as a society did we really think that giving no money down mortgages to the unemployed on million dollar homes would have no consequences? We throw up our hands when BP's estimates of escaping oil is revised from 1,000 barrels a day to 60,000 barrels a day. (I've been wrong a lot in my life--but never by a factor of 60!) Did we really think we can send millions of tons of pollutants into the atmosphere and not have hell to pay for it?

The same lack of causality has infected us in the advertising business. When I worked at Bloomingdale's or wrote ads for large national banks, you knew immediately if your ad worked. Run an ad and see what business it "caused."

Then the anti-causalists became ascendant and such accountability was seen pejoratively. It made advertising crass and commercial--gasp--.

Today, as my friends at various blogs have pointed out, we build things slowly. First we might have a conversation about a brand, then I might become a fan of it. Then maybe I'll send a tweet.

Well as Archie Bunker used to snarl, "whoop dee doo."

Look, this is really simple. We advertise not to make friends or even to build relationships. We advertise to influence minds and wallets. If we spend a dollar on an ad, then we should see at least a dollar and a penny in return.

That's cause and effect.

That's the way the world is meant to work.

A better writer than me summed it up this way:

As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

It's not as ye sow, so shall ye tweet.

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