Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Mainstreaming Lies.

Maybe it was always this way. Maybe I just notice it more now.

Maybe it's that there are no more watching dogs, whistle-blowers, truth-tellers.

Non-short-cut takers.

Millions are calling for a presidential candidate in cognitive decline to step away. Yet we accept a presidential candidate who's a convicted felon, a sexual abuser, and a pathological liar.

We live in a country where the liar is the debate winner. Ergo, the country is the loser.

The scariest part of all this is the part that's hardest to see. We're so used to the lying that we no longer notice it. Lying is like sirens in a city. They're supposed to alarm you. But they're so ubiquitous you no longer pay attention.

On Saturday, Jess Bidgood of The New York Times wrote about these lies in an article worth reading.

Maybe I'm exaggerating. Maybe I'm over-reacting. But similar truth-abnegation-through-repeated-lying-distortion-and-rewriting is happening in our industry as well.

Cannes is a perfect example of this.

Ogilvy won network of the year. They're doing it with fake ads. They fire people each month. They've reneged on their diversity pledges. They're losing (at least in their flagship office) millions of dollars per annum. And so on and so on.

I'd not be surprised if half of the big holding company agencies won some slim prismatic slice of an agency of the year award. And many of them--once the biggest names on what was once Madison Avenue--are teetering on the bring of insolvency or irrelevance.

In 2023, DDB won Cannes network of the year. 

I don't know if they even have 100 employees in New York anymore. And certainly, they seem to lose C-suite people as fast as trees lose leaves in a wind storm.

But like Trump and his legion of enablers, the industry is enabling the propping up of the lies of the industry. That it's doing work of consequence. That it in and of itself is consequential. Worst of all, that the ad industry is vital to clients and a healthy career.

Ogilvy's recycle lies for Coke are a perfect example. Yet. They win praise for an ad that allegedly ran for recycling. Yet.


If we say it enough maybe people will believe it. At least the ignorant will.

This is how we mainstream lying. How we blur the distinction between reality and salesmanship. How we obscure everything in service of share-holder value.

It was Orwell who said, “In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Let me add to that. “In an age of universal deceit, telling lies is a business model."

We work for, vote for, live with, act on, abide by liars. 

The biggest lie is the one we tell ourselves when we don't notice any of this.

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