Saturday, June 5, 2010


For about the last ten years or so, maybe more, giant entities--corporations and concentrations of money, have acted as if their behaviors are completely risk free. They've acted with hubris--that arrogance that doesn't just insult man, it insults the gods.

How can drilling a mile-deep be risky? We're so smart it can't be. How can NINJA mortgages and credit default swaps and the like be risky? We are annointed therefore they must be safe. How can re-insuring insurers be risky? We've looked at the numbers.

We've seen over the past twenty-four months as we've tiptoed on the brink of Great Depression II--we might still fall in--what the results of ignoring risk are. Tremendous arrogance leads to tremendous disasters. Likewise, tremendous arrogance has caused tremendous environmental damage in the Gulf and perhaps even worse damage via Chevron-Texaco in the Ecuadoran Amazon. (Read about that in Bob Herbert's "New York Times" op-ed today.)

Tremendous arrogance has marked the advertising world as well. Our holding company leaders (if that's not an oxymoron) have forgotten about risk. They think they know the answers. And they've discovered a modern alchemy. They can turn shit into gold. They can treat employees like shit and still get work out of them. They can treat clients like shit and in turn still expect loyalty from them.

Clients, of course, have also forgotten about risk. If we test enough, if we parse enough, if we committee enough, there is no risk in creating ads.

Obviously risk-hubris in client-ville and Madison Avenue does not constitute disaster. A few jobs are lost. A few hundred more rotten commercials run.

There's no risk when that happens.


Tore Claesson said...

What's interesting is the paradox that every little comma and every detail of any image are scrutinized by lawyers when it comes to ads. There isn't one little colon that isn't questioned for legal reasons. Nothing else about the business of doing business seems to get as much attention to detail. Certainly not security measures or product quality control judging from what happens all too often.

Anonymous said...

Long live Harold Lloyd.