Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Or Die.

Let's start with a time-worn truism.

Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.

We've all heard that.

We've probably all said that.

My experience tells me something. Nearly every product being sold today sucks. Nearly every product being sold today is bad.

Every airplane seat is too cramped. The flights are late. The personnel are nasty. I'd say you're treated like cattle, but cattle is probably treated better.

Every telco is unreliable. And loads up your bill with hidden charges. And makes bills impossible to decipher. And drops about three calls in five. Beyonce my ass.

Same with every ISP.

Every hotel room is pubic-haired. And full of hidden charges. And filthy. And near the noisy elevator. And the rattling ice-machine. Even expensive hotels. Some MBA sold them on the idea of cheaping-out on every courtesy.

Every automaker has crappy service departments. If you can get an appointment, you can't get a loaner.

Every fast-food place strews its trash everywhere. And service is slow and surly.

Every soda spot shows thin people while causing a nation of diabetics.

I can't be the only one who feels mistreated at every "customer interaction experience."

Customer service is more aptly customer disservice.
Or disrespect.

None of this is advertising's fault.

But what happened to our higher Bernbachian order? 
What happened to guiding clients, not just being their vendors?
What happened to being agents?
To saying, 
fix your problems rather than sweeping them under the rug.
What happened to substantially helping a brand, not just polishing is turdiness?

What happened to Love thy Neighbor?

And believing the consumer isn't a moron.

I've been in the advertising business literally my whole life. 

I was born into it.

I never saw myself as a flack. A whore. A liar. A mouthpiece.

I saw myself as someone who was meant to improve a client's business. Not just from ads. From actions. From candor.

The ad below is more than half-a-century-old.

It might be half-a-century since anyone read it.

That's a mistake.

It should start every meeting, every presentation, every new business pitch. 

The commercials I say during the Super Bowl didn't reflect the reality of the world I live in. Everyone of them--no matter how entertaining and pyrotechnically adroit--struck me as dishonest. 

We seem to be a Potemkin industry.
All facade. No foundation.

How was your blogpost experience today?

😃        😐        😠

Do this or die.

Is this ad some kind of a trick?

No. But it could have been.

And at exactly that point rests a do or die decision for American business.
We in advertising, together with our clients, have all the power and skill to trick people. Or so we think.
But we're wrong. We can't fool 
any of the people any of the time.
There is indeed a twelve-year-old mentality in this country; every six-year-old has one.
We are a nation of smart people.
And most smart people ignore most advertising because most advertising ignores smart people.

Instead we talk to each other.

We debate endlessly about the medium and the message. Nonsense. In advertising, the message itself is the message.

A blank page and a blank television screen are one and the same.

And above all, the messages we put on those pages on those television screens must be the truth. For if we play tricks with the truth, we die.

Now. The other side of the coin.

Telling the truth about a product demands a product that's worth telling the truth about.

Sadly, so many products aren't.

So many products don't do anything better. Or anything different. So many don't work quite right. Or don't last. Or simply don't matter.

If we play this trick, we also die. Because advertising only helps a bad product fail faster.

No donkey chases the carrot forever. He catches on. And quits.

That's the lesson to remember.

Unless we do, we die.

Unless we change, the tidal wave of consumer indifference will wallop into the mountain of advertising and manufacturing drivel.

That day we die.

We'll die in our marketplace. On our shelves. In our gleaming packages of empty promises.

Not with a bang. Not with a whimper.

But by our own skilled hands.


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