Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Rainy day reflections in a muddy puddle.

The rain this morning is coming down in sheets and lashing the plateglass of my 11th story window. It makes long streaks like tears on the glass as if it's buffeting us, this Tuesday morning, with cosmic sadness.

It's already 8:15 yet the only sound other than the pelting rain is the whoosh of white noise meant to mask the oppressive din of our open plan work space. I suppose the rain has slowed New York's creaking 1850's infrastructure to a near halt.

Nothing works anymore because we haven't the will to find money to fix what is broken. Instead we look for cheap band-aids and magical panaceas.

A friend is visiting the states from China with a group of Chinese business associates. They're amazed at how decayed things are. The roads look like they've been hit with artillery. The paint on bridges and overpasses comes off in large, rusty clumps. There are potholes that warrant their own zipcodes.

Still, we won't pay to have anything fixed. The gasoline tax hasn't been raised in over two decades and the anti-tax anti-government minority that imposes its will on the nation seems ascendant.

I'm wondering if the same morass affects our business.

As Bob Hoffman pointed out yesterday, we are slave to two statements: we need to get younger and we need to get more digital. There's a subtext in those statements that no one wants to call out. That is, I need to do things cheaper. I don't want to invest in my brand. I'm not willing to think long-term.

Everybody, every brand, at one time or another, says 'let's be like Apple.' But no one's willing to do the work. 1) Have a clear message. 2) Stick to that message. 3) Invent innovative products. 4) Show how those products work. 5) Make great ads--TV, outdoor, print.


As a nation and as an industry, our pursuit is of short-cuts, cutting corners, the quick fix.

Even the absurd proliferation of awards short-cuts the success that once came with actually driving sales and building brands.

Instead, we take a short-cut.

Hand me a trophy and say we did something important.

That's our world today.

We do nothing good and expect rewards for it.

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