Thursday, April 1, 2010

No, really, what do you think?

One of the major changes in the world, and therefore in our business, has become what we may gently call "democratization." No longer do people trust "experts," like film or restaurant reviewers. We go to Rotten Tomatoes or Zagats for insight and reviews from our peers. At presidential town halls, we accept questions not from Pulitzer-winning journalists but from the lady down the street who has three kids, no job and a 1982 Buick.

The same thing has happened, unfortunately, in advertising to the detriment of the quality of the work and its cost. What I mean is that in agencies today it seems everyone gets a vote--from the junior ae to the technologist who makes type move. Discussions about work do not involve its efficacy so much as they are spasmodic gyrations and compromises on the road to consensus.

We have shifted, to put it simply, from "is it good" to "does everybody feel good about this."

This is neither good nor something to feel good about.

I know that with the relativism of the 60s came the decaying of absolutes. But I, for one, miss them. There's nothing wrong with eliciting thoughts from a lot of people from disparate backgrounds. But at least to me it makes sense to have a professional filter, process and sort those inputs and coalesce them into a point of view.

That, not making everyone feel "invested in the process" is the primary role of a leader.


Jonathan said...


You are now officially my favorite blogger. Your posts the past few days have been even more spot-on than usual.

george tannenbaum said...

Thanks, Jonathan.

Anonymous said...

George, I don't mind junior account people being asked for an opinion, as long as I can override them if their opinions are stupid. I am not always a fan of experts because experts have come to believe that their word is law. A true expert is happy to get feedback and listen to various opinions before making a judgement based on experience and knowledge. Most experts today are 'self-appointed' and the more we ignore them the better off we'll be. Proof: Donny Deutsch is considered to be an expert on advertising by MSNBC. What more do I need to say to make my case.

george tannenbaum said...

Anon, you're right. Opinions are valuable. But there needs to be one throat to choke. Preferably not one whose has his nether regions covered by a Speedo.

Shanty Mathew said...

Decision-making-by-committee invariably obliterates the original idea. What is left-over is very often - and usually, very obviously, a dud.

But fortunately, group-think also ensures that accountability gets spread around so thin that no-one can be actually held 'responsible'!

I submit that every creative should compulsorily have three owners - one in Creative, one in Account Management, and one on the Client-side.

By pinning accountability, I am certain that we will have automatically eliminated much of what bedevils Advertising and Marketing today!