Thursday, July 6, 2023

No One Will Read This. Thank God.

I've spent most of my professional life fighting.

Fighting a lot of things.

The technocracy of agencies. The over-complicatedness of how we work. Tin-horn bosses with titanic egos and minnows in the engine room.

One thing I've always fought is the idea that people don't read. I fought it back in high school when I wrote for the school newspaper. I fought it when I wrote, at age 22, the Montogomery Ward catalog and tried to wedge in something interesting within seven lines @ 44 characters. I fought it when I wrote vacation memos and wrote to make mine (and me) stand out.

To my eyes--alluding to Gossage--saying people can't or won't read is like saying people aren't interested in what's interesting. 

They do read.


Ask JK Rowling. Ask Stephen King. Ask the editors of The New Yorker, the New York Times (which has almost seven-million digital subscribers--about four times the number they used to have of print subscribers.)

The notion that people can't or won't persists. It persists to the detriment of our industry (what's left of it) and its primary role,  that is, giving people the impetus and information to buy the shit our clients are selling.

The idea that you might drop $50,000 on a car for no rational reasons or $2,000 on a computer or $7,000,000 on an AI infrastructure based on a pretty picture and some purple language is essentially anti-people. It means you think people are so stupid that they can't or won't make rational decisions.

(Emotional is rational, btw.)

I know I'm anomalous as a human. But I'm not so anomalous that my need to assess the things I buy is in effect from outer-space. So I can't believe I'm alone in wanting reasons to buy Listerine for $8/bottle when the Walgreens store brand is $4/bottle. That's advertising, folks. 

You make a better product. You tell people about it. You get to make more money.

When did that evaporate? When we decided to put all our undifferentiated advertising into Twitter and Instagram and hope our smiley faces and cliche writing were better than the other guys'?

Just a couple of days ago, I opened The New Yorker and came upon an article by Pulitzer-Prize winner, Elizabeth Kolbert. Her book "The Sixth Extinction," is well-worth reading. Buy it before we're extinct.

I read the article while thinking about the drivel the ad industry produces for its clients. The falsehoodisms it celebrates at Cannes. 

I took ten-minutes and annotated a bit of the article. Mostly because it appears that our industry, clients included, think all writing sucks and its inclusion in advertising is an unnecessary evil. Not that good writing, good thinking, can actually lead to differentiated effects from advertising.

So, FWIW, assuming you've read this far (which proves my point, if you have) my notes, below. And my GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company credo. Again, FWIW.

This post is a continuation of yesterday's post, really, about how the communications we make must be better than the drivel that surrounds them. 

In days of yore, we used to affix our print ads in magazines when we showed them, both internally and to clients. Maybe we should show things in context once again. Drop a commercial right at the climactic point of whatever is hot on TV right now, and read the chemical reaction of the 87 people in the conference or zoom call who are reviewing your spot. If they're pissed off, you failed. If your work doesn't stop people, you've failed. 

There's endless blather about purpose in our business. And even more endless blather about awards. 

Our purpose is to create communications that persuade people to buy. People buying is our award. From that will come wealth and praise and success. And trophies, if you need them.

Unless you just don't buy that.

No comments: