Thursday, May 2, 2024

George on George.

George Bernard Shaw's writing hut was built on a turntable so he could move it with the sun. He called it London. If he had unwanted visitors, his staff could shoo them away 
by saying, "he's in London."

I realize advertising creative people are not of the ilk of George Bernard Shaw. These days, about 93-percent of the copywriting I run across either says, "triple play bundle," "save 20-percent," or "don't take blank if you're allergic to blank." More often than not, those three snippets are welded together to make a sentence, or the entire script of a commercial.

And that commercial went through 17-rounds of revision to remove anything that wasn't insipid in the insipid original.

I ran across the photo and the copy above just moments ago, and it got me thinking about advertising.

After all, it wasn't that long ago when many agencies (pre-holding-company sell-out) realized their employees spent more time at work than they did at home. They thought about that and concluded, it might make sense to make people's offices comfortable. They'll feel better about being at work. And feel better because we're showing them a little consideration.

About 25 years ago, the first time I got hired by Ogilvy, I was told to go buy my own furniture. They didn't give me a spending limit. They just told me I should get some things I liked.

They wanted me to feel at home.

In less time than it takes a disease to spread, that sort of treatment vanished like the smoke from a fire that just won't catch.

Doors were shown the door.

Individual offices were collectivized like Russian farms after the revolution.

We were told that sitting at what Rich Siegel calls "the long table of mediocrity" would increase communication, collaboration and creativity.

Sitting amid the din was a positive. It was good for the work. And for business.

Even if it made no sense for the bosses because "they needed privacy."


So much of how the ad industry has been sullied during the holding company era has been based on lying and illogic. We don't need quiet. We don't need a "place." We don't need time. We don't need space. We don't need experience. We don't even need regular pay increases or performance incentives.


We need bagels. And maybe a community service day. And being told that some play-for-pay contraption named the agency a "best-place-to-work." Or some other, even more nefarious play-for-pay entity allowed the agency and holding company to buy the agency and holding company seven-hundred awards, six-hundred of them proclaiming the agency agency-of-the-year though it lost 22-percent of its business, fired 47-percent of its staff, and hasn't won anything of significance since the late 2000s.

Everyone I talk to bemoans the quality of life in the agency world today and the quality of work agencies produce. Commercials on TV make inflight announcements look like something shot by James Wong Howe. Yet, agencies go on promoting the 3:15 film for an unreliable ISP that they shot with Oscar-winner Katheryn Bigelow. Never admitting that showing something great from a company that delivers shit is a lie that's sure to piss more people off than it is to get them to like your brand.

Just like treating talent as if they're as disposable as a pampers diaper will ultimately destroy your brand.

Just now I did a Google search for "Agency of the Year." It's more than a little comical to get 2,840,000,000 responses. I can't help thinking it's like Buchenwald getting one-thousand five-star reviews.

When truth, respect and standards vanish from a society, dignity and quality go along with them.

That wasn't George Bernard Shaw.

It was George Tannenbaum. 

(Also, I know how to spell 'fish.'")


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