George Parker: The CEO As Spokesnozzle!

George Parker is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com. Every week he shares his opinions on the advertising world with PSFK.

Writing on AdScam last week about the pathetic new TV campaign for the Men’s Wearhouse, I noted that now that the account has moved to a new agency, according to a company PR hack, “The new campaign is a pretty significant departure from where we were before.” Which is somewhat strange to me, as it still has the world’s most annoying fucking CEO, George Zimmer, spouting shit in every spot. Perhaps the fact that his beard is getting greyer is considered a breakthrough.

But the point of this week’s rant is that I am on an anti CEO in advertising crusade. I mean its bad enough that these captains of industry make more money than Croesus, whilst consigning millions of workers to the scrapheap and driving their companies into the ground… But, do we have to put up with their ugly mugs in their advertising?

Sometimes, just sometimes, it works. Think Lee Iacocca, Dave Thomas, Frank Perdue, even Orville Redenbacher… The live one, not the dead one CP+B brought back in a totally shitasmic campaign a few years ago. These people had an affinity to the brand, they were either the founders of the company, or had had a great deal to do with what their companies success. They were believable, and above all, you could sense they were acting the part of spokesperson, ‘cos they actually believed what they were saying.

Then you look at the rest of them, and all you see are desperate agencies pumping up the already inflated egos of people you wouldn’t employ to mow your lawn. The prime example being the recent TV campaign for GM featuring gnarly old CEO dude, Ed Whitacre, who looks like he’s had a broomstick shoved up his arse. My favorite was the one in which he claimed… “We have repaid our government loan in full, with interest, five years ahead of the original schedule.” Which is an outrageous lie, as the repayment came from another bailout account provided by TARP — or as one TV pundit described it, “it’s like paying off your MasterCard with your Visa.” Besides which, we the long suffering tax payers own sixty one fucking percent of the company.

Then there’s Roger Riney, CEO of Scottrade, who flies around in a fake purple helicopter, promising to make you rich through the miracle of $7 dollar trades. But, at least we don’t have to put up with Charles Schwab any more, although in their recent advertising, we have been advised to “Ask Chuck!” I guess that’s to make you feel the multi-millionaire is the kind of guy you can have a beer with… If you could get through the door of his country club.

My all time favorite? Ted Waitt, who was the CEO of Gateway computers. Back in the glory days of the eighties, when all the PC mags were the size of the Manhattan telephone directory, Gateway used to run multi-page inserts based on famous events throughout history. All the company employees would act as extras in each tableau, while Ted would be the hero, playing Washington, Moses, Einstein, or fucking Hitler. Apparently simple “farm boy” Ted had an ego nearly as big as his company, which eventually crashed and burned. Ted walked with millions. No surprise there.

But please, could we have a moratorium on CEO as God ads?

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.

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