Thursday, March 26, 2020

Save 20% during our Mass-Extinction Virusathon.

Since the impending doom of civilization raised its ugly prime-time head a few weeks ago, in addition to a deadly virus, our species has also been at the mercy of deadeningly dumb marketers.

How Not To Communicate cartoon
Thanks to Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian, for pointing this cartoon out to me.
It started almost immediately. With emails from companies that for whatever reason feel they are free to communicate with us because we bought a sandwich from them once or a thumb-drive or a much-needed pair of replacement shoelaces.

Some of this e-ssault comes from the misguided and pernicious notion that we have relationships with brands--
that they mean something to us. That's what we've been told by customer relationship management experts, so it must be true. To keep our relationship "robust," these brands feel the compulsion to tell us how compelled they are to tell us that they have a compulsion to tell us that they care.

If you believe the experts, you have a relationship with three or four airlines, three or six hotel chains, your fucking phone company, your even more fucking cable company, your car company and your local dealer and the service center, a few dozen restaurant chains, about 20 state and local politicians, in addition to your barber, your dry cleaner, your butcher, fish-monger, green-grocer, mailman, doorman, porter, concierge, superintendent and more. 

The fact of the matter is you could take all the true caring in the world that emanates from a corporate suite in the direction of an actual "target," centrifuge it for two-minutes and get it down to where it could fit in the space between the dot and the letter i in a sentence writ in 2-point type. 

We care means we care that you have money we want.

Next to jump on the banal brand bandwagon were the award-fetishizers. All at once, logos with hands were replaced by logos with elbows bumping. Hahahahahaha. Type was spread apart to remind us to keep our distance. And in a blink, the very idea of a typographic ligature practically became a "serif-non-grata," a typographic symbol about as socially acceptable as a swastika.

The bigger issue here is I think all of these self-serving efforts only reinforce a something terrible about our business.

Ninety-nine percent of people who work in marketing or advertising or social or digital or whatever it is au courant today to call it have forgotten the industry's basic reason for being.

We are here to impart useful consumer information.

Not platitudes.

Not androidal fauxmotions devoid of real humanity but approved by 17-rounds of non-humans in corporate clothing.

Not to win praise for our skill, cleverness and craft.

We are here to help people. 

Help them make wise decisions.

Help them with good information.

Help them find something of value.

We are not meant to pelt people with inanities in a shrill, shouting and always on way. Sorry, Gary. 

We can be friendly but we are not friends. "Hey, Saran Wrap, if you're not doing anything after you've preserved the just-sliced-in-the-deli-freshness of my bologna sandwich, you wanna get a drink after work?"

Friendship (I hate to be so reductive about this) comes not from saying you're friendly but from being actually helpful. 

Advertising today--or whatever we decide to call it--is rightfully being met with an tidal wave of, at best indifference, at worst disdain.

There's something worse than not caring about people. It's not caring and pretending you do. For your own self-aggrandizement.

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