Thursday, November 29, 2018

Are we not people?

I had a chat with a colleague, like we do nowadays.

About ten years ago, maybe 15, the plutocrats at the top of the holding companies decided the rabble—ie the people making them rich—didn’t need their own offices, didn’t need a place where they could have a moment of peace or even a conversation with a co-worker.

So, we knocked down all the walls and now workers spend half their days looking for meeting rooms and the other half searching for job codes and filling out timesheets.

Like I was saying, I had a chat with a colleague, like we do nowadays.

In between using the urinal and running to the elevator in the 13 minutes you have to eat lunch between your back-to-back double-bookings.

He commented on a post I wrote on Monday on the shrill tone the corporate chieftains often take when communicating with the hoi polloi…

I asserted that I think the “coming apart” of America, to use Charles Murray’s term had something to do with it. I grew up in America where there were two sides of the tracks, but where people of different classes intermingled. They went to the same houses of worship, the same schools, they shopped in the same stores. Their kids played on the same little league teams.

Today, inequality has made social mixing all-too-rare. With the average CEO making 300 to 400 times the wages as the average worker (as opposed to 17 times the average worker when I was young) our world has become bifurcated. There’s the rarefied precincts of the super-rich, and everyone else.

I think what’s happened in our business and in the world is that the super-wealthy have forgotten how to talk to ordinary people. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they often don’t even consider their humanity.

I think one of the many reasons Hillary Clinton lost is that she failed to see people as people. She saw them instead as demographic groups, personas or archetypes. They became “white suburbanites.” Not humans struggling to pay for college, healthcare, facing aging and diminished job opportunities.

This myopia afflicts our business as well. Everyone in every ad is happy. Smiling. And seldom has a problem that a new cheesier nacho or a low-carb beer can’t remedy.

I think if you compare the language from this 2018 speech by Hillary Clinton with an earlier speech by FDR, you’ll be able to sense what I’m talking about.

Clinton’s obtuse, theoretical and anodyne.

“We are standing up to policies that hurt people, standing up for all people being treated with dignity. We are doing the work to translate those feelings into action. And the fact that some days it is really hard to keep at it just makes it that much more remarkable that so many of us are, in fact, keeping at it. It’s not easy to wade back into the fight every day but we’re doing it, And that’s why I am optimistic, because of how unbelievably tough Americans are proving to be.”

FDR’s is empathic and human. Visceral.

“In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens—a substantial part of its whole population—who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.

I see millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hangs over them day by day….

I see millions denied education, recreation, and the opportunity to better their lot and the lot of their children.

I see millions lacking the means to buy the products of farm and factory and by their poverty denying work and productiveness to many other millions.

I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.”

Seeing people as the “other,” as lesser, as undeserving, as beneath you, leads at the least to shrill and castigating memos from out-of-touch higher-ups who never venture out of the offices they still occupy. In extremis, it leads to the gassing of immigrant women, children and men, who, like our parents and grandparents, and so on, are seeking more for their futures.

It is one of our first jobs as humans—and as communicators—to be cognizant of how we speak to people and how all people should be accorded respect. Our questions as marketers should be how can we be sensitive, honest, sincere and real. Only then can we touch people, move people, motivate people, keep people loyal.

Of course, Facebook, one of the world's largest advertisers, is willfully failing to treat people as people. At best, we are users (ick) at worse we can be carved up and sold for our data like a cow from a Chicago stockyard.
We are a commodity. Being parceled, sliced and diced, sold and resold for our nearly infinite supply of data.

Except unlike a cow, whose parts can only be sold once, because data is merely zeroes and ones--and infinitely replicable--we can be sold and resold ad (Ad) nauseam, like a Goldman-Sachs-er repackaging a diseased mortgage.

We are no longer people.

We are pixels, ones and zeroes. To be used, abused, sold and resold, and we've lost our souls.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A look back. A sobering look back.

In the deep, dark recesses of my files I found a listing I had saved from Adweek of the top 100 agencies from 1992, published 25 years ago, in 1993. 

In the wake of the latest spate of agency mergers, I've highlighted the agencies that have changed their names since then usually through merger(s), and crossed out the agencies whose names, for whatever reason, no longer exist. 

No further comment.

Agency Domestic 1992 Billings Change
1 Foote, Cone & Belding 2,288,469 +5.7%
2 Leo Burnett Co. 2,104,073 +3.1%
3 J. Walter Thompson 1,944,000(*) +10.9%
4 D'Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles 1,929,000(*) -1.7%
5 DDB Needham 1,910,721 -5.2%
6 Young & Rubicam 1,842,000(*) -0.6%
7 Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising 1,750,000(*) -0.7%
8 Grey Advertising 1,719,000 +5.9%
9 BBDO 1,634,768(*) +6.8%
10 McCann-Erickson 1,567,800(*) +12.0%
11 Ogilvy & Mather 1,545,000 +0.8%
12 CME KHBB 1,008,542 +3.4%
13 Backer Spielvogel Bates 976,029 -10.0%
14 Lintas:USA 920,000(*) +0.9%
15 Wells Rich Green BDDP 919,900 -0.4%
16 Ayer 855,300 +13.4%
17 Bozell 850,000 +9.1%
18 Chiat/Day 620,000(*) +9.2%
19 Ketchum 612,400(*) +1.3%
20 MVBMS/Euro RSCG 500,635 +23.4%
21 Earle Palmer Brown 408,840 -2.1%
22 Temerlin McClain 405,000(*) +15.7%
23 Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor 370,000 +5.7%
24 Tatham Euro RSCG 349,563 +7.7%
25 Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos 338,049 -5.4%
26 Hal Riney & Partners 335,000 +3.1%
27 Admarketing 329,700 +3.9%
28 TBWA 325,597 +7.2%
29 Lowe & Partners 325,000 0.0%
30 Ammirati & Puris 325,000 +30.0%
31 W.B. Doner 295,746 -0.4%
32 Ally & Gargano 275,000(*) -3.2%
33 Avrett, Free & Ginsberg 260,000 +6.1%
34 Lois/USA 246,000(*) +3.8%

35 Wieden & Kennedy 240,000 +42.9%
36 Arnold Fortuna Lawner & Cabot 217,705 +11.6%
37 Bloom FCA 215,000 +13.7%
38 Rubin Postaer & Associates 210,800 +16.7%
39 Laurence, Charles, Free & Lawson 208,723 -3.0%
40 GSD&M 201,083 +34.5%
41 Team One 197,000 +7.4%
42 Tucker Wayne/Luckie & Co. 196,000(*) +17.4%
43 Evans Communications 185,000 -0.3%
44 Griffin Bacal 182,600 +5.1%
45 The Richards Group 182,500 +1.4%
46 Scali, McCabe, Sloves 182,500 +13.7%
47 AC&R 181,616 +5.1%
48 Partners & Shevack 178,900 +4.1%
49 Goodby Berlin & Silverstein 166,445 +41.9%
50 Bernstein-Rein 159,112 +17.5%
51 Fahlgren Martin 158,808 +10.2%
52 Lord, Dentsu & Partners 158,000 +3.9%
53 Bayer Bess Vanderwalker 151,338 +20.8%
54 McCaffrey and McCall 150,000(*) -45.4%
55 Warwick Baker & Fiore 150,000(*) -2.0%
56 Dailey & Associates 149,000(*) -4.3%
57 The Martin Agency 148,043 +30.4%
58 Davis, Ball & Colombatto 141,720 -4.7%
59 Cramer-Krasselt 141,460 +12.1%
60 Ingalls, Quinn & Johnson 140,008 +0.7%
61 Calet, Hirsch & Ferrell 135,000(*) 0.0%
62 Deutsch/Dworin 135,000 +50.0%
63 Wyse Advertising 133,000 +2.3%
64 Eisaman, Johns & Laws 131,000(*) 0.0%
65 Rosenfeld, Sirowitz, Humphrey & Strauss 129,000 -4.4%
66 Fallon McElligott 125,098 -0.8%
67 Martin/Williams 125,000 +5.0%
68 Margeotes Fertitta & Weiss 122,000 +18.4%
69 Meldrum & Fewsmith 119,827 +3.1%
70 Long Haymes & Carr 119,300 +36.0%
71 Valentine-Radford 119,060 +28.1%
72 Doremus & Co. 111,914 +29.4%
73 Carmichael Lynch 110,700 +0.9%
74 Mullen 108,300 +12.6%
75 The Weightman Group 108,000(*) +3.8%
76 Angotti, Thomas, Hedge 105,000 +16.7%
77 Cliff Freeman & Partners 105,000 +30.0%
78 Kirshenbaum & Bond 105,000 +61.5%
79 CHC & M.E.D. 103,000 -26.4%
80 McKinney & Silver 101,880 +12.3%
81 Rotando Lerch & Iafeliece 100,300 +16.9%
82 Cadwell Davis Partners 98,000(*) -2.4%
83 Kresser Craig 96,773 +5.0%
84 Venet Advertising 94,500 -24.3%
85 Goldberg Moser O'Neill 89,600 +10.6%
86 Gianettino & Meredith 89,000 +9.6%
87 Fogarty & Klein/Winius-Brandon 87,777 +0.4%
88 Rumrill-Hoyt 85,836 -13.6%
89 Towne, Silverstein, Rotter 85,000 0.0%
90 Gray Kirk/Van Sant 80,750 +7.0%
91 Lauglin/Constable 80,500 +17.7%
92 Waring & LaRosa 80,400 +16.2%
93 Henderson Advertising 80,094 +6.7%
94 Ackerman McQueen 79,640 +5.4%
95 Cole & Weber 79,006 -5.1%
96 Richardson, Myers & Donofrio 77,950 +14.8%
97 Lotas Minard Patton McIver 77,800 +117.3%
98 Anderson & Lembke 77,700 +14.4%
99 Jack Levy & Associates 77,400 +12.6%
100 Asher/Gould 76,000 +2.7%


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Intercomcom merges with noted International Art Museum.

The logo of the newly formed communications entity.
Global advertising holding company, Intercomcom, who has a controlling interest in over 600 communications and marketing entities, including three other global advertising holding companies that own another 600 communications and marketing entities, announced today a merger of one of its lead agencies with the Toledo Museum of Contemporary Art.

Intercomcom spokesperson said, “Today, communications are all about data. But at Intercomcom, we’re all about Dada. Anyone can use data. Whereas dada finds us insights, human truths and emotional ballast. So we’re putting together some of our finest Human Storytellers® with an institution that knows more about dada than anyone else.”

“Clients today don't need sales, the spokesman continued. “They need purpose-focused inspiration that is rooted in dada-driven insights. Our combined entity offers precisely what clients think they want. Brilliant storytelling, sophisticated technology--with occasionally functioning wireless--and expertise in dada. It's with humility that I am both honored and humbled as I lead this new organization and its exceptional people through round after subsequent round of downsizing.

Agency CEO, Ed Melward said, “with everyone having virtually the same access to data, we differentiate our client-facing offering by bringing dada into the equation. Just think of how Marcel Duchamp added value to a simple industrial urinal by integrating it with dada. Imagine trying fill out a melting timesheet a la Dali. We could call it ‘the Persistence of Vagaries.’”

Melward continued in a prepared statement, “This marriage builds on a collaborative history of pushing the boundaries to the outer limits of banality. As a modern powerhouse, we will continue to innovate in traditional spaces while exploring the new, the stale and the detritus that passes for new. By bringing dada into emerging and emergent categories as well as submerged and submerging categories, we will be bold and borderless whilst always putting first our corporate largess and pettifoggery, never forgetting to feather the nests of those who need it least.

“It’s a world that runs on dada,” said a holding company spokes-cliche. “We will use dada itself to obscure and deflect in every way possible.”