The revolution will not be televised

I blame Bewitched.

If — as clients — everything we think we know about advertising we’ve learned from episodic tv at 11 years of age, then we’ve come to expect that the sales rep at the ad agency is also the guy or gal who comes up with the whole creative campaign.  Usually, in an eleventh-hour panic.  The only other ad creatives who lived in pre-digital tv land, Thirtysomething‘s Michael Steadman and Elliot Weston, were cut from a similar cloth.

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As clients of digital marketing companies, local marketing agreement agencies, search engine marketers, social marketing experts, broadcast sales reps and newspaper sales reps, don’t we deserve the real thing?

There’s a lot of retail advertising made on the cheap by the media sales departments. And marketing gurus who know better.

A 1981 release, Neighbors, starred John Belushi and Dan Akroyd.  While Roger Ebert dug it, it was more flop than hit in its first run, but what’s not to like?  One particularly memorable image still hits home as an apt metaphor for lazy marketing today.  The bit of funny business when the Akroyd shady-new-neighbor character cons the Belushi neighbor character out of his cash and into a so-called fancy Italian restaurant take-out that’s really Ragu and store-bought spaghetti boiled at home.  Do you ever think your ad agency is like that, steaming off the Chef Boyardee labels and serving it up like it was made artisanal, and all that?

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Oh sure, there’s a revolution out there somewhere, a battle between the old world of work and the new ways — authenticity, transparency  — helpful information and useful content triumphing over empty promises and unbelievable exaggerations that are easily recognized as “advertising” and tuned out.

Only, I don’t think it can be easily packaged or delivered by push-button.  The revolution will not be merchandised.

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Hey, wait a minute.  Don’t we know advertising is a falsehood and a complicated dialog between our need for truth and our need to present a fictionalized persona of ourselves to the outside world?  Didn’t we all watch the final episode of Mad Men?


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