Way back in 1899, Norwegian-born University of Chicago professor Thorstein Veblen wrote a ground-breaking study and critique of "consumerism" called "The Theory of the Leisure Class." I won't go into discussing the book here. It's way too "heady" for me--especially while I'm quartered safe out here in Minneapolis.
What I will talk about is this:
Over the last two weeks, preparatory to some new work and some big meetings, I've spent more time with planners than is clinically-proven to be safe and healthy. I've heard about TED and SXSW until pontification is pouring from my pupik.* As Popeye would intone just prior to opening a can of spinach with his pipe: "I've had all I can stands and I can'ts stands no more."
What I realized last night when I was reading about Veblen is that since 1899 we have traveled as a society from "The Theory of the Leisure Class" to a horrifying place--to "The Leisure of the Theory Class."
That's right. "The Leisure of the Theory Class."
We have now in our business and in the world a class of anointed theorists. Call them CWOs (Chief Windbag Officers) who do little, but say a lot with no accountability.
They are the second guessers, the pre-judgers, the "I-wouldn't-have-done-it-that-way-ers." They are the the great un-accountables who produce nothing but hot air, nothing that lives and breathes, nothing that has an impact in the market. Nothing you can pin down. They come late to meetings and bring with them questions, never answers. They are suppository suppositionists. Always inserting doubt--never coalescing around conviction.
We pray, all of us in advertising, to many false gods and idols. To award shows that award work that doesn't work except in award shows. To decoration and trends. To technology used by the few, ignored by the many for the betterment of no one.
Do not bow down to the Theory Class.
* PUPIK: Belly button. Vulgar: vagina.
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