Thursday, January 11, 2024


About ten years ago I heard a quotation by the Yale University art critic, Vincent Scully (not the Dodgers' former announcer) that had a major impact on my life and my life in advertising.

It helped clarify for me brands and advertising and what we do.
The semiotics of advertising. The signaling we do that transcends words and pictures, sight, sound and motion.

In talking about the 1963 destruction of one of New York's grandest public spaces, the Mead, McKim and White-designed Pennsylvania Station and the monstrosity that replaced it, Scully said, "One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat."

Maybe it's a function of being old and aggrieved but today at 66, I feel more and more brands, companies and people treat others not like gods, but like rats. More and more, the companies that buy our hours, the brands that take our money (they're usually in an oligopolized industry) treat us with contempt.

Think about, for instance, trying to get help with your cable bill via a bot. 

You, a customer who pays thousands of dollars a year are held in such contempt by the near-monopoly cable company that you can't find a way to talk to a human (they employ no humans), you can't get a straight answer about what they charge, and you can't have an interaction without them hitting you with yet another near-extortionate "promotion." 


Think about flying somewhere. You are stuffed in a seat smaller than your ass. The plane is 40-percent over-booked, 40-percent under-staffed, 40-percent under-maintained, and usually late by about 40-percent.


Think about being employed by one of the oligopoly holding companies. You are lied to repeatedly (there are no raises except for the very wealthy), you have no 'room of your own,' you are a cost, not a value, and the only interaction you with the holding company itself is a shrill all-caps email that you're late on your timesheets, and there's no acknowledgement that much of the reason you're late is that they've made the timesheet system (surely the product of corporate kick-backs) so Byzantine, that it's nearly impossible not to be late.


Fouling the earth is contempt.
Not paying a living wage is contempt.
'Your call is important to us' and then a 90-minute wait is contempt.
Contempt is baked into nearly every action, reaction, motion and emotion.
Contempt is so wide-spread it's become normalized, 
acceptable, expected.

There's a reason for that contempt, of course. 

Humanity costs money.

Contempt is the minimal viable product. And giant corporations and the MBAs that run them find contempt more cost-efficient. Better for their corporate bottom lines and therefore their year-end bonuses.

Contempt is the lingua franca of the world.
Contempt is the coin of the realm.
Contempt is the good enough that's good enough. 
This is contempt.
A public trust that runs as a public fleecing.

As far as I'm concerned, I refuse to treat people with contempt. 
I refuse to treat clients with contempt.
I refuse to treat the people I work with with contempt.
That's why I was kicked out of a contempt-led industry.

It's also why, when holding companies are printing scrip in the form of fake awards for fake clients, or jettisoning properties they bought for hundreds of millions for pennies on the dollar, GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company grows month after month, year after year.

Contempt. A product of the contemptible.

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