Ever since I was a kid and roaming the sooty canyons of Manhattan, I've played a game of sorts.
I've always as I walk through the city, I counted the number of stores on a block and calculated what percentage of those stores were empty.
Before New York got malled, I'd guess about 10% of stores at any one time were empty. That's probably equivalent to 4% being 'normal' unemployment--that is people who decide they want to take some time off, relocate, whatever. For retail, 10% is probably normal.
During the recessions we've had every few years since the first gas crisis in 1973, the percentage would rise to 15% or 20%. These days, with Amazon accounting for 49% of all online sales and Walmart accounting for nearly 10% of all bricks and mortar sales, I'd guess one out of four stores in New York are empty. That's 25%.
It's sad. Who would have thought Madison Avenue would begin to resemble a rarefied rust belt.
I'm rounding into a point.
It seems to me, a lot of businesses--and Madison Avenue retail is really just a metaphor--need a lot of help. They need ideas on how to not just revitalize their businesses, but maybe, more critically, viable-ize their business.
I am from an old school--a very old school. But I've always felt that for people to be happy at work, they need to find a little nobility in what they do. A school teacher shapes generations. A doctor saves lives. Even a letter carrier delivers important information, love letters, social security checks.
People need to feel they're making a difference. That they're not obscure.
Even though I'm only a copywriter, I believe in the power of good advertising, and the nobility of helping companies succeed. Helping them not be one of the metaphorical empty storefronts. I think there's a nobility in that.
In fact, again maybe arrogantly, I always retched a bit when the Republicans crafted the semantic legerdemain of calling the Plutocrat class "job creators." I always thought I was a job creator. By stimulating demand for a company or a product, you stimulate sales which creates jobs.
In other words, I always thought there was a nobility in that.
More and more in the business today--especially since the onslaught of the AWARDS-INDUSTRIAL-COMPLEX, the business seems to be divorced from the nobility of helping companies succeed. Instead it's more focused on helping our selves succeed. That's how the industry is finding its nobility. Fake ads. Fake clients. Fake causes. Fake purpose.
I think philosophers might call that solipsistic. Or maybe, if they're a little less hoity-toity than I am, self-serving.
I don't know what's the matter with me. Why I'm not interested in the extrinsic appurtenances of the business. Why doing some artificial work for an artificial client that wins the praise of artificial judges in an artificial locale does nothing for my own personal swagger.
Nearly every day I see empty storefronts, or companies in near-death throes, or companies who don't know who they are or don't know what they sell.
That's what I want to do.
I like mammon as much as the next guy. But I really like being given the toughest puzzles and solving them.
I think there's a certain satisfaction in that. A certain sense of accomplishment. And nobility.
I don't need to swagger about it.