Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Something's wrong.

Last night, I don't remember what I was reading, but all of a sudden I felt like I couldn't breathe. I felt so distant, disconnected and removed from our industry. As if I had arrived at an ad agency in Istanbul and was asked to write an ad in Turkish.

It was a "want" ad that set me off.

It was someone "seeking" a social media strategist.

After a lifetime in this business--literally a lifetime--I felt like the whole thing had collapsed.

Usually when I see a want ad that sounds vaguely interesting, I think about out-of-work friends who might fill the job. If it's a big job, like an executive creative director, I think about whether it's right for me.

But like I said, this job was for a social media strategist.

It gnawed at me.

I'm not being funny here.

Or acting stupid to make a point.

I can't for the life of me--and I'm down in the trenches--tell you what possibly a social media strategist would do for 20 or 40 hours a week.

I simply don't know what the words mean.

Like I said, I've been around the agency business for all of my 57 years. My uncle ran Philadelphia's biggest shop. My old man was chairman of a top-20 US agency. I got my first agency job 31 years ago.

I know a lot about the business. But this has me baffled. I've never seen the product of a social media strategist. Never, knowingly anyway, seen an effort by one to influence the way I think or act. As far as I know, I know nothing.

If I had to characterize life today, I'd say that we know more and more and more about less and less and less. We'll exhume Cervantes' bones and learn that he ate goose liver, or something. But while we're spouting about all we know, we overlook basic human truths. While we extol companies like Apple for making things simple, we make our own lives complicated.

Advertising, whether it's on TV or social media, whether it's a blimp or a billboard, has to get people's attention. Then, it has to make a promise to them.

That's how interpersonal communications have worked since the beginning of time. From back when we were testing out walking on two, rather than four, legs.

If you know what a social media strategist does, or if you are one, please do me a favor. Send me a note or call me up.

I'd like to know what you do.

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