Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fear ascendant.

Years ago when I was a creative director on AT&T at what was then known as FCB, I presented a spot to the client that featured a Jewish mother. The clients bought the spot and then their FEAR started. "You're not going to make that "ethnic" are you?" They kept asking me. (Ethnic in this case being code for Jewish.)

"Well, there's not a lot to the spot if it's straight," I maintained.

We cast a wonderful actress in the spot, Tovah Feldshuh, and somehow got her approved.

"She won't be doing it ethnic," they kept reminding me.

We shot the spot and I was walking off location with my producer. "They're really concerned about it being too ethnic. Oh, and by the way, what should we do about music?" he asked.

"Klezmer," was my answer.

What I realized subconsciously then and what I realize more overtly now is that our business is a war against the fear of clients. (Not to mention internal agency fear.)

We have as a society grown more timorous. There are warning messages on pretzel bags warning of sodium ingestion. Warnings on seltzer bottles that the contents could explode and put out your eye. There are warnings everywhere that have taken the place of what we used to call common sense. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.


Clients are afraid of fear. They seek to avoid it at all costs. They pick. They perseverate. They procrastinate. All because they are afraid of doing things differently from how they've always been done.

Someday some smart agency will create a position called Chief Fear Officer. That person's job will be nothing but calming people down. He will become rich and famous.


Tore Claesson said...

oh, there are already chief fear officers; the lawyers.
And that s part of the problem, everything is being mangled through lawyer's minds. Despite that, so many lousy products of dubious quality are made. That is the most dangerous thing of it all. An example. I recently had a pot of boiling water fall apart due to inferior material and design. A water boiler mind you. And it had been approved by the government agency that approves electrical things. With a bit of bad luck I could have burned the skin off my privates. Apparently there is more scrutiny when it comes to advertising than when it comes to product design.

SheriffShooter said...

funny, still.

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