Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I guess if you think about advertising, you might be able to boil its constituencies down to five parties.

1.     There’s the agency or group that’s creating the work.
2.     There’s the client or business they’re creating it for.
3.     There’s the audience the work is directed toward.
4.     There are the award show judges that can make your career and/or agency.
5.     There’s you. You doing what you think is good based on your knowledge, experience and the criteria you’ve developed over time.

Ideally whatever you create should appeal and move all five of these constituents. But if you visited Madison Avenue from Mars and observed for a while, if you were able to stomach the trade press and the babble on agency blogs, you’d conclude that only one or two of the components above matter.

That is, how did the work self-promote either your agency or you. And how will it do at Cannes. I see on my various feeds work cited at various once-prestigious award shows that never really ran or never had an impact on any marketplace.

We have lost that “selling feeling.” We have lost the plot.

We’re so busy being cool that we act the fool.

The idea that when there’s an ad on TV or the web or even print, it’s meant to do one of two things. It’s meant to either change thinking or change behavior.

Like good writing in general, advertising is not meant to be merely an exercise in skill, craft and beauty. Skill, craft and beauty—along with persuasion for the ends of a client are what our careers are meant to be about.

As Bill Bernbach pointed out many orbits of the sun ago (I found this quotation on the wonderful, extraordinary and intelligent “Sell! Sell! blog,”) here.:

“Today, everybody is talking ‘Creativity,’ and frankly, that’s got me worried. I fear lest we keep the good taste and lose the sell. I fear all the sins we may commit in the name of ‘Creativity.’ I fear that we may be entering an age of phonies.”

I don’t fear that we have entered the age of phonies. I fear the gravity of our world has shifted to favor them.

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