Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Every day advertising.

Advertising is a funny business.

And by funny, I might just mean stupid.

In days of yore, when our work was big and loud, it was on TV and in magazines and newspapers every day. People saw the work we as an industry did. In short, we SHOWED clients what we did--every day and every night. If those clients liked what you showed them--every day and every night--you got more business, or at least more interest in your agency.

To be very simple about it, you knew what kind of work agencies did. And you knew where to get it. You knew who was who according to the work they did.

Today I'm afraid that system isn't working anymore. Most work--and most agencies--seem to me all but invisible. I'm a student of the business--I assiduously follow the trade magazines. And with the exception of TBWA\Chiat\Day, Wieden, Goodby and maybe a few other agencies--it's really hard to know who does what. 

And a brief look at a dozen or so agency sites doesn't give the reader much information. Many agencies seem more bent on displaying their award-winning work on Lego and Scrabble than on real work for real clients. Some, I presume I know the unmentionable reasons why, show no work at all.

What I do see are agencies that seem to promote themselves via something I call Insta-pablum. They say things like this:

Insta-pablum. Insta-babble. Insta-platitude. Insta-Hallmark.

The opposite of Insta-funny. Insta-wise. Insta-though-provoking.

Their "advertisements for themselves" are a great big Insta-who-cares. Or in the words of the Bard, "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Our job isn't producing homilies--like Edgar Guest after a focus group. Or inscrutable "white papers." Or to bang a silent drum announcing the win of a revenueless account.

Our job is to be noticed.

To add value.

To define the amorphous.

To afflict the comfortable. Comfort the afflicted. To get them to act.

Our job is to make a product--good communications--that serves the needs of a client.

And these days--our job is to show that we can do that every day. 

Fussy is dead. Precious is dead. Snobbery is dead.

Doing. Doing. Doing.

In many ways advertising, at least to me, is a lot like playing professional baseball. 

You play every day. Which means you show up every day. And you take your whacks every day. Not just when you feel it. Or are in the mood. Or are limbered up.

Every day.

About 15 years ago, I decided to write a blog. I've written it every day, every day.

In large measure I started this blog as a challenge to myself--could I do it? And in equally large measure as a demonstration to the industry and to clients. It's my way of showing people who I am and what I can do and the intensity at which I do it. Every day.

Advertising is different today. 

It's a small, daily business. It's more like writing a small-town newspaper--getting to know the ins-and-outs of your world.

It's no longer three commercials a year and live off the media dollars.

Every day you have to shit or get off the pot. Fish or cut bait. Come back with your shield, as the Romans said, or on it.

You have to do something good--and put your name on it--for the world to see. Every day.

In fact, when I present to clients now, I don't show three print ads. That's irrelevant. I usually show 30. Something they can do every day.

Client creatives can do three ads. Client MBAs can do powerpoints. Client strategists can write white papers.

But who can do what I do. 

I plan to keep things that way.

I plan to keep working.

Which means I'll keep making work that's built on a platform that can hold--not a few ads--but a few hundred.

Some months ago some friends and I did these ads. I didn't write them all. But you get the idea.

Do something.

Every day.

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