Friday, October 24, 2014

Wallowing with Bernbach.

One of the odd things that seems to have happened in our industry since it reached its apotheosis during the "Bernbach Era," is that we've walked, and in some cases run away from everything that we should have learned and inculcated from Bernbach.

Bernbach and his legions created product ads that connected both rationally and emotionally. More often than not every frame of the TV spot or ever visual in the print ad featured only the product. Today it seems most every ad is an ad for the category. The new Beats headphone ads are a perfect example of this. I'm supposed to buy beats because a well-muscled superstar does? Really?

Further, Bernbach avoided decoration in his ads. Today, all we do is decorate. We add scrumptious eye-candy and fancy filigree. No one ever bought anything thanks to post-effects.

Along with avoiding decoration came truth and honesty. Usually a hard dollop of information that clarified things for me, the viewer. Read an old Volkswagen ad and you'll see what I mean. Bernbach also talked to his viewers as if he were talking to his friends and neighbors. Today ads seem to present most people as morons or, worse, buffoons.

Finally comes the way we work.

I actually think Bernbach's early insight to pair art-directors and copywriters is being ignored. It seems, despite our embrace of workspaces that allegedly promote collaboration and openness, we seem more divided and apart than ever.

Maybe I'm just in a shitty mood. Perhaps I'm nostalgically wallowing in a past that's gone forever.

But I think we are ignoring the truth of what we all know.

And it saddens me.

BTW, the commercial above was done at Carl Ally, not Doyle Dane Bernbach.
But I love it. And it illustrates my points.

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