Thursday, January 7, 2021

Seven Trumpian lies commonly employed by the modern ad industry.

LIE: You can get something for nothing. 

TRUTH: There are no easy solutions. No magic bullets. No marketing panaceas. No magic. No free media. Success takes work (and sometimes luck) but mostly work.

LIE: Experience doesn't matter. 

TRUTH: No, anyone can't do it. And knowledge of what's gone before and human behavior is important.

LIE: It's an if/then proposition. 

TRUTH: It would be nice if there were causality in the world and if we did this marketing action then this reaction would occur. The truth is, as Bernbach repeatedly said, persuasion is an art, not a science. And quantification is nearly impossible to predict.

LIE: Trust me. I'm an expert.

TRUTH: No one knows anything for sure. There are people with good track records, but a coin that lands on "heads" 99 times in a row, still has a 50/50 chance of landing on heads the next flip.

Or as Czeslaw Milosz once wrote: “When someone is honestly 55% right, that's very good and there's no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it's wonderful, it's great luck, and let him thank God. But what's to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever says he's 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.”

LIE: _________ is dead.

TRUTH: As Faulkner said, "The past isn't dead. It is not even past." Human behavior has changed very little in the past 400,000 years. 

LIE: I alone can do this.

TRUTH: There are a lot of qualified people in the world. And a lot of decent agencies. Most agencies have a lot of talent. Failed advertising comes from bad client behavior that's accepted as ok by an agency because they're afraid of what will happen if they're honest.

LIE: Repeating a lie makes it true.

TRUTH: Echoing Gertrude Stein, a rose is a rose is a rose. And a lie is a lie is a lie no matter how often you say it's true. Those who say, for instance, "no one watches TV anymore," or "no one reads," or "people have short attention spans," are pushing an agenda--nothing more.

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