The reason I call my cousin Yetta or Ettie or Etta is that she was, it seemed to me, forever changing what we called her. I grew up calling her Cuz--the first names of the older-generation were off limits to kids when I grew up. Even when I was 60 plus, it wouldn't have felt right to me--a mere stripling--to call her by her first name, whichever one she was going by.
In fact, it wasn't until I Zoomed into Cousin Yetta's funeral service and heard her children and grandchildren speak, that I even knew Yetta had an official first name: Henrietta. There are layers of identity we build to conceal bits of our life that we wish to keep to ourselves.
My father Stan's mother, Ida, was sister to Herb's mother, Em. Stan and Herb were best friends. Herb married Yetta. My father married my mother, Audrey. And that was about all the family I ever had.
As the years went by and my mother's borderline personality spent more and more time over the border, Herb and my father had a falling out. Herb wanted my father to divorce my mother and my father couldn't. That ended that.
Along the way, I got further and further from my harrowing parents and closer and closer to Herb and Yetta. I probably got more love in the two times a year I was with Yetta than I ever got from my mother. Much of that is my fault, of course. I essentially stopped talking to her once I hit 17 or 18.
I've been to my fair-share of funerals, of course. What almost 65-year-old hasn't? But this was the first Zoomeral I'd been to. And from the serenity of our small seaside cottage in Connecticut and through a cascade of tears, I listened to cousin after cousin share their memories of Yetta.
Having grown up as I did in a home devoid of love, hearing Lisa and Howard and Lauren and Debbie and George and Andrew sing of love made a strong impression on me.
How much love is missing in our world. In fact, since this is a blog ostensibly on advertising, how much love is missing in our business.
I don't mean Kevin Roberts and his phony Lovemarks. I mean the love incumbent on us as creators and stewards of brands and products.
When we create communications for brands we must start with love. We must feel love for the brands we work on. We must find reasons for love. And we must love the people who buy the brands we work on.
In so many ways I think modern advertising finds not love, but disdain for the companies, products and people we advertise to.
We're embarrassed by who's paying our salaries and by proxy for our lives and the education of our children. That's why we distract ourselves by fake ads and fake awards for borrowed interest causes. We look for love elsewhere, when we should look for it close-at-hand.
Maybe love is hard to come by if you're working on Tontonno's pizza rolls or Swiffer or a grate-and-bait-and-switch phone plan.
Maybe love is always hard to come by.
I've heard thousands of people through the years say a product is boring and they don't want to work on it.
That's on you.
That's on you not finding the essentiality, the importance, the vitality, utility and love in the product.
That's on you bringing only your head and not your heart to the brands you're paid to promote. Maybe, if I'm not being abstruse, you'd find a similar message in Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning."
Love is the answer. Even in advertising. Love the brands your with. And your clients. And their lives and careers.
Sorry all this came from Yetta's funeral.
May she rest in Love.
A few commercials in which Love is expressed:
And a couple not as good as the above by your favorite resident idiot.