For those of you too young, or too thick to recognize the headline of this week’s opus, simply think of the film that made Michael Caine, Michael Caine and ultimately, Sir Michael Caine. And if you have to ask who Michael Caine is, start standing in line right now so you can be the first on your block to get your slimy mitts on an iPad on April 3rd. Not that any of this has anything to do with this week’s column; it’s simply a light hearted lead-in to a deadly serious subject.
Is advertising fucked?
Well, that depends on what your definition of advertising is, and while you’re at it, what your definition of fucked is.
Anyone who’s had the perseverance to stay with me over the last couple of weeks, knows that I was one of eight people chosen to give a rabid slathering at the mouth presentation to the assembled hordes at the 4 A’s conference in San Francisco. My idea was simply to get rid of the holding companies by having all the BDA’s buy themselves back from the bean counter’s greasy clutches. Yeah, as you would expect, everyone at this shindig regarded my suggestion as some kind of joke and quickly turned the page to get on with the more serious business of datametrics, social networking, knocking down walls and blowing up silos while building “Agencies of the Future.”
Which leads me on to the meat of this conversation… I find it funny that all the shit being written at the present concerning the current state of the ad business, is about how traditional advertising is dead, ‘cos it’s no longer about selling shit, it’s now about engaging in conversations. Namely, people are not affected by advertising; they are influenced by what they see on their laptop, cell phone, or fucking digital pogo stick. So now the primary objective is to have them feel positive towards the brand. Buying shit… Man, what century are you from?
Of course what is so marvelous about this whole situation is that irrespective of the outrageous claims made by the perpetrators of the miracles of “Social Media,” no one is able to put up rock solid case studies showing how some inane Twitter feed sold billions in Rice Crispies (and please don’t give me that hoary old Dell story about 3 million in sales, via Twitter bullshit… the sales CANNOT be attributed solely to the Twitter fantasy.) No, the true genius of this whole thing is that it is merely an update of the traditional smoke and mirrors BDA’s have got away with for years. Because now talking shit to clients about engaging in “Social Media Conversations’ “is as meaningless as blowing gazillions on a massive TV campaign to marginally “Increase Brand Perception” used to be. Neither of these approaches makes sense, they never did, they never will.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of this whole descent into the fiery pit of advertising mediocrity is that irrespective of whether you are spending your money on advertising or conversations, the vast majority of what is being produced is still puerile, soporific, and an insult to the audience’s intelligence.
Worse, it’s a very sad reflection of what this business has become. And finally, is this what you entered the business to become part of?
George Parker is a guest columnist for psfk.com. He is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com, which is without doubt, one of the most foul and annoying, piss & vinegar ad blogs on the planet. He is the author of MadScam and his new book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, which is currently setting the ether ablaze (and which you can order now on Amazon). He will continue to relentlessly promote the crap out of it until you are forced to stab yourself in the eyes with knitting needles.