Friday, September 15, 2023

A Giant Sucking Sound.

Years and years and years ago an agency I worked at was flying very high, maybe the highest of any agency I ever worked at. Including when I worked at R\GA and Lowe, which before it was merged into obsolescence was one of the world's top agencies.

This agency, unfortunately no longer recognizable, had done a series of spots featuring Jerry Seinfeld. From what I heard--I was nowhere near these spots--the creatives hit it off with Seinfeld and somehow he showed up at the agency Holiday part and did twenty-minutes or so of standup.

Seinfeld really only told one joke. He said he liked advertising because you can basically boil work down two bits of feedback. 

The work is either good. 
Or it sucks.

That was 25 years ago. Not even a blink of time in terms of the history of humans on our benighted planet. But during those 25 years, as an industry, we've derived about 2,500 ways to ignore the obvious.

As an industry, we seem to believe when people see a spot, whatever device they see it on, they don't sort it as Seinfeld observed at that Holiday party back in the early 2000s. They don't say "that's good" or "that sucks." Today, we're way more sophisticated than that and people care and pay much more attention to advertising.

When they're watching TV at night, tired after a long day, maybe stressed out, maybe angry, maybe feeling that 21st-century sense of Marxist alienation, despite all the pressures of the world, they're really paying attention to commercial messages. So consumers, according to the way the ad industry sees them, must view TV and say things like:

"Really great use of data..."

"Wow, generative AI wrote a beautiful piece of all things to all people copy."

"What gorgeous cinematography."

"Thank goodness that Buick will be there on my journey and has three rows of seats."

"Hands-free driving. What a piece of work is man!"

"They must really have a terrific content studio."

"They have amazing virtual activations. I can't wait to see what they do on the metaverse."

When I go online or watch TV, about 99-percent of all messages are as dull as a boarding house steak-knife. For the life of me, I can't see how agencies or clients think anyone will notice these ads, much less get something of value from them. Yet they run them over and over again.

As an industry, it appears this is what we value, this is what we believe in, this is what we do, this is what we think works. Because this is what we make, award, boast about.

And then we wonder why we aren't valued by clients.

Whatever framework you go by, Seinfeld's "Good/Suck," the traditional A.I.D.A. (attention/interest/desire/action) or Trott's Impact/Communication/Persuasion--most ads fail abysmally.

They have no stopping power.

They make no promise.

They don't differentiate.

They don't persuade.

To quote Macbeth... is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

i.e. It sucks.

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