Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Stubborn Stubbing.

David Brooks of The New York Times had an op-ed, or essay, in The New York Times last Thursday called "Surviving the Ugliness of It All." 

Maybe it's not healthy to bring nearly everything I see, think and do back to advertising, but bear with me for a moment. If you trade in "headlines" as I do, tell me how you can avert your eyes from Brooks' headline, how you can ignore it, how you can pass it by.

That aspect of being a communicator, in whatever form you communicate, to children, to teams, to consumers in whatever channel you work in seems to have been forgotten. I'm not sure why. However, it seems to me--and I see a lot--that about 97.73764-percent of all messages communicate no importance, have no stopping-power, show little concern for the time they're asking their audience to give.

In any event as I said, I look at the world and think about my world. My world which is advertising, and my business, which is GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company. I don't read business books to learn about business. I read books about the world and see how they apply to business. There's usually an extra-cognitive step involved in learning this way, but as William Carlos Williams might have written, so much depends upon that step, and as Robert Frost might have written, that step makes all the difference.

So, I read Brooks' piece about Churchill and Roosevelt. And I was able to reduce it to two sentences. 

Then, I realized that those two sentences could serve as a universal brief for any brand, any agency mission, any relationship and anything we do.

First, the reductive two sentences.

One: Churchill saved the British Isles--and defeated Hitler--by reminding England WHO WE ARE. 

Two: Roosevelt saved the West, the Allies, the English-speaking world--and defeated Hitler and Tojo--by showing America HOW TO GET IT DONE.

And there you have it.

For any advertising assignment.

Who we are. What are your values? What do you make? What do you believe in? What do you do to help people? Why are you important?

How to get it done. How to buy us. How to use us. How we operate. How we help you.

Who and How, if you want even more reductiveness.

It seems to my glaumy eyes, that nearly every person, every company, every social organization, and certainly every ad agency, including, sadly, Wieden & Kennedy is struggling now with these two question marks.

Who are we? 
How do we do what we do?

I'd say as an industry we're pissing up a rope when it comes to these ABC basics.

We make the problem more severe when we answer the above with banalities like we practice "borderless creativity." 

About six months ago, I listened to a podcast from The Economist on how to write gooder. 
 In that podcast, Lane Greene, a language correspondent for the magazine said: 

I start with words. We like to use the old, short words of the English language. Winston Churchill once said that short words are best and old words when short are best of all. That means the concrete, the simple. If you're interested in language history, the words that go back to the Anglo-Saxon period of the English language constitute the real bedrock of the language. Ideally, those words should be concrete things. Things that you can stub your toe on....

 In as short as I can make it, make your brief, your thinking, your work simple so they explain:

1. Who are we? 
2. How we do what we do.
3. In language you can stub your toe on.


All that from one article in the Times. The kind of article we used to wrap fish in.

No wonder I don't sleep at night.

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