Along the way, two words changed the advertising industry.
I don't know who came up with them or why.
Somebody probably started spouting things like "nobody cares about the product." And I guess no one was there to Gossage-ize them and say, "Our job is to make them care."
So quickly, in just the last couple of decades or so, we added two words to what advertising has always done when it was done well.
We went from:
"Make the product important."
"Make the product important in culture."
The "in culture" appendage represented a way to show how cool your mayonnaise was or our plastic wrap. How those products or brands "got it" and fit into our lives.
Nearly every commercial or ad I see these days has generic language, me-too visuals, and a positioning that says a brand is either right for now or built for you or built so you can be your best self or live in your now.
You see spots like this. Which rely on for their “persuasiveness” the endorsement of celebrities who I don’t even recognize. Or music I don't like.
The $200 shoes don't get talked about. $20,000 dental work is all that's shown.
1. 'Our most luxurious' is meaningless. 'The most luxurious' would vaguely mean something. Dumb.
2. Spacious seating for up to seven. Parity claim. Dumb.
3. Innovative safety features. As opposed to old-fashioned safety features. Dumb.
4. High quality materials. Oh. I prefer low-quality materials. Dumb.
5. Comfortable for long drives. Again, oh. Dumb.
6. and 7. The car works in the day-time and night-time! Dumb.
8. Every mile a pleasure. Ok. Bumper-to-bumper traffic on roads that haven't been paved since 1962, is a pleasure. Dumb.
My point here isn't to bust New Balance or Volvo, though they both deserve it. My point is that neither of these two all-too-typical spots includes anything salient about the product itself. Nothing that makes the product interesting, different or unique. Nothing that comes close to giving the viewer any reasons why.
They're dumb. Not real. Hoping you like them because they hang with elements some persona says you like.
It's hard for me not to hear the corpse of Bill Bernbach spinning in his grave.
Again, I can't believe decision-making has shed all of what was important to people just twenty or thirty years ago--and what's been important to people for virtually all of our species' time on this benighted orb. I can't believe that nothing material about the product is worthy of explication or even information. I can't believe no one cares what makes something different or unique or able to answer an individual's needs.
Here are some Volvo ads from days gone by.
They make sense to me now.
Compare them to the Volvo spot above.
None of these ads try to make Volvo a part of culture.
They were more interested in making Volvo a part of your driveway.