Saturday, July 10, 2010

I worry about polite applause.

Earlier this week, as New York sweated through a stifling heat wave, I posted a sentence to two from Raymond Chandler--how he described heat.

It was good and visceral. It was fresh. It was anti-cliche.

In other words, it stood for something. It was noticeable.

What strikes me about so much advertising (and life) today is that it looks to garner nothing more than polite applause. Yes, it has the ambition not to suck. But it lacks the courage to really be loud, strong, powerful and passionate.

After nearly every client meeting I sit through, people come up to me and say "I can't believe you said that." Often because I said something that wasn't expected to be said.
Often because I had a strong point of view. And expressed it in language that wasn't dull.

Life is dull. As "Big Daddy" said in Tennessee Williams' "A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "The truth is pain and sweat and payin' bills and makin' love to a woman that you don't love any more. Truth is dreams that don't come true, and nobody prints your name in the paper 'til you die."

Our job as communicators is to break through the everyday and hum-drum. It's to be unexpected and "heard."

Cliche and sameness equals polite applause. Something referential and reverential to something else. Something that's easy to approve of and easy to ignore. Something to politely applaud.


Unknown said...

I applaud that vehemently. Why do clients agree to pay through the nose for a whole group of so called professionals gently stroking their backs rather than delivering truly groundbreaking advice? It is because we're in a sales situation rather than a situation where we're advising on things that will sell. It's betrayal really. The clients betray themselves and the companies they represent. We betray everyone who's livelihood is dependent on the company for which we've been appointed to make sales happen. We may live to pick up another pay check by being meek. But we will never be remembered for having produced anything worthwhile. We may quietly contribute to disaster. There are several really big, once successful, companies that's gone under, and others that are about to go under thanks to mismanagement and weak marketing and advertising. Not all of which had flawed business ideas. Or even flawed products. The execution lacked.

Unknown said...

Companies fail because consumer research is seldom correctly constructed, even less often applied. The insights created are often time sensitive and get lost in the post. The creative ideas that evolve within their advertising agencies are seldom iterative or ever challenged. The value propositions in the advertising fail to correspond to those develop by the client marketing or brand team. Agency Kudos has become the creative currency and ego massage the primary client interaction. The client is asking for profit stoking strategies - well he should be if he knew to - supported by creative advertising. Instead he gets rehashed ideas or pure art from creatives, strategists who think they connect with the connected generation and media people like John Billet saying cut down 10seconds ads deliver the same effect as a 30 second ad in a campaign without any understanding of the fucnctioning element of the message or brand objectives.
What is needed is: Integration of all communication channels - including digital, switched on account planning, meaningful insights directly applied to strategy, fascinating advertising that has a stab at delivering mystery intimacy and sensuality, and a value proposition the consumer can buy into. Only this can stop an ice age in advertising. Problem is it needs a change at the client to be fully applied. ps: Read about another brand in crisis =

12XU said...

you title was deceptive.
I was hoping that you were joining me in my one-man war against Leg Clapping.
please people, just don't bother.

but yeah, the ad stuff part of this was good too.