Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Connecting to smiles.

About 2200 years ago, in the first century BCE, the story goes, a non-Jew wanted to provoke the Jewish rabbinic sage Shammai. It's not hard to provoke a rabbi. When I was in Hebrew school, they yelled at me all the time. 

In any event, the non-Jew challenges Shammai to teach him the whole Torah--and while Shammai is standing on just one foot. Shammai isn't daunted by this. He rises to the challenge like applesauce piled high on a crisp latke.

Shammai answers, "That which is hateful to you, do not unto another. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary."

Alas, this space is not devoted to the theological or teleological. It's a blog about advertising, the English language and baseball, in roughly that order. So why am I talking about the Torah and Jewish law?


The rest is commentary.

In the ever-increasingly complex world of advertising, there are legions of ad professionals with ever-tightening sphincters, who spout theory, trot out paradigms and Venn diagrams, and pontificate about all sorts of advertising models. These--this is pejorative--professionals, have all the answers. They can pomposify from early morning to late at night, through pages I to LXIII in the preamble to a 204-page powerpoint. They have theories on theories and feces on theses, and they exist mostly because the collected muckety-muckery in the ad business and the client-side are too cowed by their bullshit to say, "I think you're bullshitting." 

With apologies to Thorsten Veblen, I call it the "Leisure of the Theory Class," and it's done a lot to dismantle the credibility of our industry.

These bombasturators keep rising and rising until they go to the client side and use their vast intelligence to destroy whatever brand they're working for, simply because they can. 

Seriously, what does the Chief Brand Officer at a monopolistic drugstore chain do all day? Hmm. Hand-lotion. Let's sell more hand-lotion. I know! Buy one, get one!

But just recently I've seen two good spots.

In today's ad world that constitutes news. 

Two good spots on TV. 

That's as rare as finding a cucumber sandwich with the crusts removed at Katz's. 

The first is by my friend, Ken Marcus, a senior writer an ACD at this year's Adweek Agency of the Year, the Martin Agency. I don't really know how Geico does it. They sell insurance. And somehow they do advertising people actually like. Reductio ad absurdum, they actually like Geico, too.

The second is a three-minute long smile by, I assume, Media Arts Lab for Apple. I don't usually like three-minute spots. They're asking a lot of me. I don't have many three-minute stretches in my days where I'm not doing something I have to do for someone who's paying me.

If you believe in the economic theory of opportunity cost--Apple in asking for three minutes is asking me for a lot. I'm going to be pissed if they don't deliver.

But this is wonderful. 

I think even Old Man Potter might smile. And he's just a warped frustrated old man. Like me.

I'm sure these spots can be discussed, post-rationalized, pre-rationalized and simul-rationalized until hell freezes over or donald trump admits he lost the 2020 election by almost eight-million votes.


There's no reason for all that.

They connect a brand to a selling point to a smile.

They connect a brand to a selling point to a smile.

They connect a brand to a selling point to a smile.

They connect a brand to a selling point to a smile.

They connect a brand to a selling point to a smile.

That's what we're supposed to be doing.

That's the whole purpose of our business.

Everything else is commentary.

No comments: