“Google will eventually rape you.”
Not to make fun of rape, but to the paradigm shifters, envelope pushers and BDAs out there, those two quotes announce that George Parker’s back with another look at how screwed up advertising is. For those thinking his latest book will be another F-bomb tirade on par with his regular AdScam blog posts, not so.
As with his previous title MadScam, George again shows that rantings aside, he knows a good deal more than most when it comes to the ad game.
If you need a word count however, the use of his favorite four letter friend this time out is a distant second to his No. 1, the acronym for big dumb agency:
Fuck (and derivative): 12
Sir Martin: 9
Poisoned Dwarf: 3
Instead of concocting an elaborate set of unproven theories about consumer attitudes or writing lovingly of his time in the trenches, George takes a different approach. Using Vance Packard’s 50-year old advertising classic The Hidden Persuaders, he updated, re-imagined and re-adapted it for today’s ad crowd.
Still, there will be a few people who don’t care about how advertising “used to be” because to them, they think they’re at the forefront of developing new ways for how people interact with brands. In their minds, the old ways don’t work anymore because advertising as consumers know it is dead, so why bother to learn the past.
They’d be wrong, because as much as digital will drive much of how consumers experience a brand from here out, it still will not be the only way they do it. (Little thing called history > forget > doomed > repeat > remember?)
To continually have this insular mindset that says only digital matters is as detrimental as traditional shops or creatives who think “engaging with customers” via social media and/or using search is a fad.
Note to both: It all matters because no media is an island.
Digital freaks: do you really think you’ll wake up tomorrow and TV will disappear? World of SEO: Do you really think you’re ready to run a full brand by yourselves? Traditionals: do you really think it’s all bullshit that someone researches the hell out of stuff on Google, or blogs about customer service horror stories that contrast with the feel-good vibe established in epic TV productions?
Much of what George covers though is obvious, and still true: The message is as important as the messenger. Amazing website? Slick :30 spot? Funky viral that has no relation to the brand? Doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t entertain and connect.
How many more options do we have now to view a brand, probably too many, right? Yet when you add it all up, how much of what we are exposed to fails at the “connecting” part that brands and agencies had hoped for.
While MadScam showed simple tactics businesses could use to help their brands, Persuaders shows how much of what Packard wrote still applies when it comes to the
Reading UP, it became apparent that nothing seems to have changed in the 50 years since the original book came out. Whether influencing how voters feel about candidates or focus groups deciding what products get marketed, the methods are the same. (He also gets in a nice shot at the world I love so much: pharmaceuticals.)
Another four letter word Parker uses? Business.
The prevailing industry mindset on the creative side is that awards are the only thing that matter, and business, well, that’s just for the suits to deal with. While he constantly gives BDAs static about this over on AdScam, don’t miss his point: As recent industry layoffs show, having a cool job in digital doesn’t mean you’re any more safe than having a ton of awards for TV spots means you’re bulletproof.
You do need to know what your client’s industry is and how it runs.
Having said that however, he notes the business of number crunching by large shops and putting profitability over creative considerations is in effect killing the industry, and that the next generation full of smaller shops may be better poised to figure out the best ways to be compensated by clients.
Speaking of, while he wouldn’t refuse being paid in pints, order a copy now youngins. You might actually learn something.
(It’s even available for the Kindle, his favorite new toy.)
Tags: Ubiquitous Persuaders, George Parker