Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A case for advertising.

For a few decades now some of the loudest voices in advertising (a community marked by no shortage of loud voices) have landed on a mantra that good advertising should "show, not tell."

People promulgate this dictum as if they themselves thought it up. As if it weren't always true. They look at something obvious as if it's a stroke of genius. Then, since advertising is seldom about original ideas, those words are repeated ad nauseam--or advertising nauseam.

The phrase story-telling went through the same faux discovery and wear-out cycle. Everyone discovered storytelling as if it hadn't been around for six-thousand or ten-thousand years. As if it were new. Ask Homer if it's new.

Oh, come on. As was writ in the Old Testament, in Ecclesiastes 1:4-11--"There is nothing new under the sun." Not to mention the daughter

In any event, around the time I hit 58, I knew that I would soon 
be fired from Ogilvy. It's not that I wasn't busy, or well-liked,
or an asset, it's just that I was 58. The agency itself was doing
some showing not telling. There was no one about who was 
within 10 years of my age.

I thought about showing versus telling when I realized I had a 
target on my back. I leaped to a few conclusions that I'll share

1. While you need a good portfolio site, even the most up-to-the
minute portfolio site is work you've done in your past. And 
there's a difference between what you've done and what you're

I decided it was much more important to make my work
I didn't want my employment to rest on things I had
done in the past. I wanted it to be more reliant on who I was in
the moment.

2. I also realized that in life--inside or outside of an agency--
showing your speed and showing a lot of ideas matters. 
Againthat gave me something to think about. A portfolio site is 
"finished." It's not alive and breathing. It’s work of your past.

My job, I realized was to show my present. Both my skill and 
my ability to grind.

3. I also discovered something very sobering. Since there are
only about twelve agencies left in New York that will pay an
old-time salary, I had to come up with a "touch strategy,"
without calling agency recruiters to the point of being a
(they usually have a low-tolerance threshold for phone
I needed to let those recruiters know that I was alive.

I took all that, and I worried the shit out of myself.

Then I realized something.

I had 15,000 LinkedIn followers. That's a media channel, I 
figured. I could do for myself what I spent four decades
clients to do for themselves: Advertise.

And I could do it in a way that answers my needs as
enumerated above, ie. I'd do them often. And I'd try to make
them stand out. 

You know.

What we tell brands to do.

I can't find the first ad I did for me. But I've recreated it above.   
might be exaggerating like an old war-hero, but I think I got
50,000 views and a few calls about work.

In other words, it worked. 

So, again, I did what we tell our clients to do. 

If something's working, if you're spending X and making 
10X, why wouldn't you do more?

I don't need some asinine term like "borderless creativity"
to ill-define what I do. I guess if I were smarter or if I were
partnered with an MBA, I'd be out on the speaking circuit
wearing a black t-shirt and haranguing you daily about the virtues of Georgevertising.™

But that's not me. I'm painfully shy and prefer life behind the
keyboard, not up on a stage.

So, friends, consider yourself harangued. That's the worst
I can do.

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