Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I heard a commencement speech from a former Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama speechwriter named Jon Lovett. It was one of the better speeches I've heard in a long time. This passage, I think, has bearing to us in advertising:

“One of the greatest threats we face is, simply put, bullshit. We are drowning in it. We are drowning in partisan rhetoric that is just true enough not to be a lie; in industry-sponsored research; in social media's imitation of human connection; in legalese and corporate double-speak. It infects every facet of public life, corrupting our discourse, wrecking our trust in major institutions, lowering our standards for the truth, making it harder to achieve anything.

“And it wends its way into our private lives as well, changing even how we interact with one another: the way casual acquaintances will say "I love you"; the way we describe whatever thing as "the best thing ever"; the way we are blurring the lines between friends and strangers. And we know that. There have been books written about the proliferation of malarkey, empty talk, baloney, claptrap, hot air, balderdash, bunk. One book was aptly named ‘Your Call is Important to Us.’"


We confront it every living moment of our ever-loving days.

We labor over briefs with specious “insights” that mean nothing except to the people who wrote them. We wrangle with claims from clients that are so thinly sliced that they would have to improve to be half truths. One-fourteenth's truth or one-eight’s truth would be more accurate.

We regularly present to people whose sole purpose seems to be proving how smart they are, not improving the work. They pick and preen and puff, just because they can.

We toil endlessly tweaking decks not improving work. Even tweaking as a word is bullshit. Eviscerating is more like it.

We see people get ahead who have never done anything, never built a brand, never done anything but polish turds and kiss the asses from which the turds emanated. But that's ok. They dress well and look the part.

We fall in love with new media toys that have the lastingness of a shooting star or a comet. No one dare say something like “yeah, Pinterest is cool, but is has no advertising application.” Or that 99% of all apps never get used except by the developer’s mother. Or that the new new thing is also a dumb dumb thing.

We are seduced by do-nothings who talk a lot and say nothing. We are enticed by frills and filigree and gizmos and gimmicks, forgetting everything Bernbach or Krone or Lois or Gargano said and did.

We are waist-deep and getting deeper.

We don't seek truth in our work, or meaning. We're too busy being sarcastic or ironic.

We don't even love what we do. Sincerity is something confined to greeting cards or birthdays for people we don't even like.

There's more. 

There's always more.

But none of it matters.

It's bullshit.

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