Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Comedy of Tragedy.

It's sad to me that there are people who really really love movies and they don't know Preston Sturges. 

That's like loving theater and not knowing Shakespeare. Or admiring vapid and missing kardashia.

Sturges made more great funny movies than anyone this side of Billy Wilder, or Mel Brooks, or Woody Allen. Don't go all triggery on me. As a society we have to learn to separate the artist from the art.

Preston Sturges made a handful of my favorite movies. Four out of the AFI's top 100--a list afflicted with a severe recency bias:
Sullivan's Travels.
The Palm Beach Story.
The Lady Eve.
Hail The Conquering Hero.
Christmas in July.
Miracle at Morgan's Creek.
The Great McGinty.
The Sin of Harold Diddlebock.

The last, Diddlebock, contains what I consider are the greatest 25 minutes in American movie history. And the greatest "bar scene" ever, below. That conviction is worth approximately the same as the value Alben Barclay put on the Vice Presidency. It's worth a bucket of warm spit. Only he didn't say spit. He used a word that rhymed with spit.

But that ain't the point today. 

The point is the clip above and its line of dialogue: "That's one of the tragedies in this life that the men who are most in need of a beating up are always enormous."

There's a malady in business today.

Everybody wants advertising, but no one wants to pay for it. 

My solipsistic translation of Sturges' line above is this: "That's one of the tragedies in this life that the clients who are most in need of advertising are always the poorest."

If, god forbid, I was ever again to have a senior role in an ad agency, I'd derive a certain rule. 

I'd never hire a senior person who hadn't spent some time running their own business. Now that I'm five years in, and so far, not failing, I've learned that doing the creative work is only a small part of being important--even vital--to clients. The toughest part of running your own agency is proving to clients that for every dollar they spend on advertising, they get at least a dollar and one cent back.

We're living, we're told, in an entrepreneurial era. As the giant oligopolistic holding companies come tumbling down like Poe's House of Usher, more and more veritable non-entities like myself are opening up their own agencies. That's good and adds to the vivacity of the world. It's like back in the 15th Century when Portuguese explorers opened new routes to the Spice Islands.

However, what makes the independence thing hard--and in twenty or fifty years when we reflect on this benighted era--some MBA will say, "virtually every business underspent on marketing."

Look for that on the cover of HBR or Inc. in 2070. The problem is, it's gnawing on my bank account now.

1. No one can buy what they don't know exists.

2. About ten-million brands and twenty-million agendas are      competing for peoples' attention.

3. See #1.

4. Without advertising, no one knows you exist. But, those most in need are most unknown.

5. See #1 again.

6. Call me.

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