Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Same old same old.

One vestige from my 15 months of freelancing--some of it for silicon companies--is I get a lot of calls asking for my creative eye and hand, mostly from silicon companies.

I'm too busy now to take on such work, but still, I take a moment or two to try to discern who these companies are and what they do. What strikes me most as I do this research is the absolute sameness all these companies seem to exhibit--in the design of their sites, in their use of icons, in their color palette, in their tone and manner. It's as if one universal designer and one universal artificially-intelligent writing machine constructed all these sites during one rainy weekend when they had nothing else to do.

Leaping elsewhere now, I look at a lot of creative portfolios. The same sameness, more often than not, pervades these as well. From design to architecture, everything looks the same.

Our creative looks like a North Korean fashion show. Every outfit is a blue serge Mao suit.

Further, what I realized when I was making the freelance rounds, all agencies look the same. Their faux loft-like open plan, open ceiling mess of people and wires. The faux comfortable seating areas. The faux communal spaces. There is no uniqueness of design or ambiance.

Almost 30 years ago, a start up agency, Keye Donna Perlstein, ran a series of ads announcing a spoof agency they called "Mammoth Pervasive and Bland." They were, I think, prescient.

I blame a lot of this sameness on the gradual then rapid squeezing out of time from the creative process. I also blame it on the epithet "award-winning." Award shows are so ubiquitous and redolent that every communication now tries to look award-winning, so, they all look the same.

We have become an industry, I'm afraid, of blanderizing copycats. If something doesn't look like what it's supposed to, it isn't accepted. It never gets out of the agency.

With apologies to Malvina Reynolds:

"And the people in the agencies.
All went to four-year ad schools,
Where they created boxes,
And they came out all the same."

That holds for ads, points of view and people.

We have homogenized ourselves until we have the character of dull government cheese.

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