Tuesday, May 7, 2024

The Who.


I've said this about 92 million times to 29 million different clients and about 292 million different people who claim to be in the advertising industry.

It's obvious and to my eyes undeniable. Yet, the idea seems to be taking root as well as an orange grove in a desert. Or real hair on donaldtrump's head.

Since the frenzy about AI--how it will write for us, create for us, strategize for us, media plan for us, find and render artwork for us, edit for us, score for us and mix for us, people understanding my belief has fallen almost completely by the way-side. 

That's ok.

I am unshaken by doubt. Self or otherwise.

Here it is. In as plain an English sentence as I can render.

People like brands that act like people they like.

Again, because you got distracted by a bing or a ping or a ding or a ting coming from somewhere, someone or something.

People like brands that act like people they like.

Put another way, maybe a better way because examples come easier: People hate brands that act like people they hate.

Would you tolerate a person (or a brand) that:

Says one thing and does another.
Keeps you on hold.
Is dishonest and deceptive.
Is unhelpful.
Leaves behind a mess.
Doesn't do what they promise.
Is always late.
Treats new friends better than long-time friends.
Isn't kind.
Tells half-truths.
Repeats itself.
Tries to take advantage of you.
Bullies you.
Isn't interesting or interested in you.
Bores you talking about themselves. Treats you like you're dumb

If you think of 99.9-percent of TV commercials, social media ads, Linked In or Twitter blurbs you're subjected to, they reflect the personality traits of listed above. If you think of 99.9-percent of corporate messaging, emails, timesheet scowlings, the same holds true.

As the owner of a small business, I get about 12 direct mail pieces from credit card companies or banks a week. I get them though I have no debt, I pay as I go, I have no loans, and feel ripped off by my local bank whose idea of customer-service is charging me $10 for every wire transfer they process. By the way, that local bank's tagline? "Be community kind."

How about "be a kind of community." Or "Be communal hindquarters."

Do they think I'm too dumb to know they're ripping me off--or trying to? Do the credit card companies and banks think I'm too dumb to know that the 50,000 bonus points or $750 they're promising me if I open up an account or get another card charging 18.75-percent interest in a seven-percent environment are just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue.

Of all the Ogilvyisms I grew up with, the one that's grown most out-of-step with the ethos of today is, "The consumer isn't a moron, she is your wife." Yes, it's out-of-date from a gender POV. But more strident than that--every agency treats every consumer--including employees, ostensibly potential clients and candidates like they're idiots. And they think they're too dumb to notice.

They're not.

For instance a prominent New York agency that for anonymity's sake I won't name but it rhymes with smoegilvy, has been firing people pretty much every week since they fired me, and a cast of thousands, five years ago. They're firing people because they're bleeding money. The accounts they've won, they're losing money on, because they won by cutting their prices. It's rumored their holding company will have to sell half of what they've bought. At a loss. That's fine. But don't in the next breath trumpet your Agency of the Year Awards because you think people are too dumb to be able to see reality.

If you're fooling anyone it's the person looking back at you from the mirror. And that's a dangerous practice. Just ask Norman Bates' mother.

In short, look at who you work for. Look at the ads on TV. Look at the talking heads and spokespeople you get assaulted by. Spend a moment thinking not about their expensive suits and faux cinematography. Think about how they act and how they treat you.

Maybe the entire industry is doing it wrong. Maybe we all are.

It's not whether or not they like you.

It's whether or not they're deserving of being liked by you.


No comments: