Wednesday, July 12, 2023


 I just read about an idea that some gardeners call "The Rough Corner." 

The idea is that somewhere, in every beautifully manicured lawn or garden, there should remain a patch of land left completely untouched. It should grow wild and chaotic. To remind the gardener of how the universe intended it to look. We can fuck with nature. We can assert man's dominion over the world. But we should never fully forget reality. It's not good to.

The universe doesn't look like a John Held, Jr. illustration, with straight lines, straight noses, and never a hair out of place. [The metaphor collapses because Held had a sense of humor with his precision.] For every, say, Richard Estes, we ought to look at a JMW Turner.

If I had to cast for the universe as it really is, I think I'd start with 

These days, I think the universe skips all grooming. And the razor-wielding barber is more than drunk, he's homicidal.

All this brings me to a point, and maybe even an advertising point.

I think in our business, we might spend a little too much time striving for perfection. If you hold as I do that people like brands who act like the people they like, we don't like perfect people. We find them too by the book. Too straight and humorless.

I'd imagine if you polled 100 people, 94 would prefer Oscar Madison to Felix Unger. I know I would. Unkempt is usually more-welcoming than uptight.

Perhaps, at least to classicists, this sounds like heresy. But I'd rather listen to Thelonious Monk playing Dinah, Take 2, than any perfect, mathematical and orderly rendition of Bach. The way Monk slaughters precision with mis-struck notes and slurred keying is perfect in its imperfectness.

Of course, as professional communicators, we seldom get to show our humanity in our work. We write and storyboard, and shoot and reshoot, and score and edit everything to within an inch of its dessicated life. By the time our work is ready for air we've squeezed every last bit of relatable out of it. The script could be shit, with the heavy hand of bullet points everywhere, but damn, that set, that lighting, that post-production makes Citizen Kane look like a student film.

Even when we do get to have a schlub in something we do, we surround that schlub with Hollywood-schlubification. The viewer knows we're not good at real. We're good at over-produced and over-tweaked.

GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company has a rate card with my offerings on it. One of those offerings was built specifically for the Insta-era of advertising we're currently living in. I call it "The Nifty Fifty." I describe it this way. And the key sentence is, "You don't have to like them all."

Some of them might not be perfect. The joke might be obtuse. I might have missed four of the seven bullets that need to be communicated. I think all that's ok.

We should be funny, flawed and human. That's how nature intended us.

Not perfect.

People will like us more.

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