Friday, January 12, 2024

Valuing Values.

About 2,000 years ago when I worked for Ogilvy the first time, there was a line that floated around the place that I haven't been able to get out of my head. 

I don't know if Ogilvy back in the late 1990s was in its heyday, but if it were ever better, more creative, more helpful and important to their clients, I couldn't imagine it. 

What's more, there was talent and dedication in almost every corner of their badly designed office space. People who you could learn from. People who challenged you. Even assholes who inspired you, if only because you wanted to bury them.

I'm not sure if the line I'm referring to was even written down in any place more permanent than a powerpoint. I'm not sure if it was a "vision," a "mission," or a "value." I'm not even sure if anyone else noticed it, or if anyone today remembers it.

Finally, I'm not sure who wrote it, though I think it was attributed to Shelly Lazarus who was the CEO of the joint back in the day. Authorship or attribution ain't really important. If I were sick I wouldn't care who came up with the treatment protocol to cure me, just that somebody had. And that it worked.

Speaking of sick.

There's a certain sickness in our industry now. 

We seem to be an industry that's been shunted to the fringes of business. We seem to do work that has the lasting effect of a fart in the Lincoln tunnel. We seem to have forgotten what advertising, or marketing is supposed to do. Worst of all, we seem to have chosen to forget who we do it for. Not for our glorification. Not for our plasticine trophyizing. Not for our pompoustification. But to help clients sell and to help people buy.

I don't want to go down a purpose rabbit-hole. Advertising exists, and always has, to tell people about things for sale and why they need those things.

Everything else is wankery of the lowest order.

So, onto the line. Onto the "phrase that pays," as DJs used to glib on AM radio in the '60s.

"To be most-valued by those who most-value brands."

Our goal ain't to create culture. Movements. Harness data or technology. It's not to produce a torrent of always-on crap that assaults people with asininities at every turn.

It's to do work people value so they can value the brands we're helping to promote.

What's more there's a certain "syllogistic symmetry" to the line. You can use it for a lot of topics and brands.

For a cyber-security company: To be most-valued by those who most value safety.

For an ice cream company: To be most-valued by those who most value cold treats.

For a university: To be most-valued by those who most value education.

As a person who helps brands for a living, that's a good starting point. Now I just have to beat it.

At a time when it seems that the industry has fallen and can't get up, when it's been-strip-mined of its usefulness and spread-sheeted out of viability and importance, as an industry, it might make sense to consider those words. Again.

by those

I don't know if the Lower Trenton Bridge is still lit up with this slogan in neon. I suspect the sentiment is no longer true, since virtually everything today is made by pseudo-slave laborers in Southeast Asia, but to me, such sloganeering--especially when it's true--is important.

It helps define what people do. 
It helps give people pride.
It tells people something important.

I kind of wish the four holding companies who have done so much to devour the hand that fed them so fat, would get together and place a sign over Madison Avenue.

Most people would mock the sentiment. Pigeons would shit all over it. Vandals and delinquents would probably huff the neon, if that's a thing. But maybe it would make people start to think.

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