Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A permanent state of bafflement.

We are, friends, in an industry that spends hundreds of billions of dollars a year creating, producing, researching and airing UGLINESS.

Not ugliness in a Cinderella's step-sisters' sense. A worse kind of ugliness.

George Orwell's ugliness in the way he uses a synonym for ugliness in his great essay (the one we should all have memorized) "Politics and the English Language." 

Point six of his rules for clear writing reads this way: "Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous."





Those words describe about 97% of what we as an industry produce. And that's being charitable.

I confess, I don't watch a lot of TV. I dislike sports as they exist in the present empty-stadium days. I can't watch teams with corporate logos on their uniforms. I can't abide watching sports played in tax-payer funded stadiums where the mega-wealthy who pay no tax sit in mega-boxes non-billionaires can't afford. And I refuse to watch anything anywhere on any Fox network or affiliate. Watching Fox supports the worst, most craven, most evil and most retrograde of forces in America.

I watch Jeopardy! when I'm not working. Probably three times a week for a total of 90-minutes. 33 minutes of that 90 is insipid advertising. If my math is right, I wast 57-minutes a week of programming. Most of that insipid, too.

There, I see commercial after commercial like these:

Such fare is par for the course today. I have bayed at the moon about things like this before, I know apologists beating the pro-stupidity, pro-ugly, pro-offense drum will assault me with inalienable reasons spots have to be like this.

It's a regulated industry, they'll say. Or whatever. I don't really care how things that shouldn't be justified are.

And I can't abide by the pussy-footed fuckers who do crap like this. And can tell you the reason why "I'm down with Crestor" is acceptable language for a commercial

Bill Bernbach was the source of modern advertising. The father, if that ain't too gendered for you. The well-spring, if it is.

He made it simple. There's no reason to ever stray from his guidance. His belief in what he called "Simple, timeless human truths."

There is no simplicity, timelessness and no humanity in 99% of what we create and force on people.

Ergo, UGLY.

Here are a couple spots, nominally in the "pharma" category that are simple, timeless and human.

Again the apologists of bad will leap to the defense of bad and say, because these are for OTC drugs, I am comparing apples and porcupines.

They're right.

The top commercials are made by an industry that thinks its customers are morons. They look stupid. They speak stupid. They act stupid. Communicate to them accordingly.

They think if you show impossibly pretty people in impossibly pretty settings doing impossibly pretty things, why, that's aspirational. And people will like them.

You can kiss my as-pirational.

The commercials below were created by people who actually liked and cared for their audience. Actually tried to speak to them. In a simple, timeless and human way.

I'm 63 years old.

I've seen a lot my myriad trips around the sun.

Even though people are smiling, singing and dancing in the contemporary spots above, they are completely inhuman. As inhuman as those spots where people say things like, "Let's take my Buick."

Nah. People say, "I'll drive."

They seldom feel compelled to mention a client's brand name in real life. 

"Hey wife, would you wrap up the leftover meatloaf with Saran-wrap brand plastic wrap, a product of the DowDupont Chemical company?"

"Sure, husband. Just as soon as I kill you with a 'The Choke's on You-brand of designer garottes."

Gag me.

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