My laptop cable went kaput! about a week ago and as a result I've not just missed a couple of posts, I've also ended up delaying the webcomic reveal. Hopefully I'll do it tomorrow.
Anyway, I had a long talk with an ex- professor of mine today and it sent me on a bit of a spiral thoughtwise. Inner hyperlinking if you will. And all of a sudden I realised just what my problem with Advertising as a profession really is.
I remember in Kyra's second last semester she'd done a post about how it blew that she had to write copy, convincing copy at that, about a restaurant she'd never actually been to. At that point something about the whole idea of advertising made me cringe, but it was until today that I was able to really get just what it is that irks me about it.
Imagine all the brands in a certain segment are people. They have personalities, plans, failures, achievements and quirks. Some are excellent at what they do, some are quite rubbish. But at the end of the day, the only ones who really prosper, who really last long are the ones who seem to be the best. Advertising as a profession ensures that.
Now, it's unfair to assume that all brands with good marketing are poor brands. It's equally unfair to presume they're all good. In certain segments it's reasonably fair, and in certain segments in not. Vodafone, is an amazing brand, introspective and evolving and always concerned. Their media plan reflects that and they succeed.
On the other hand Mandvi Beach in Gujarat is possibly the most beautiful beach in India, yet due to a better media plan Goa will always seem like the premier beach destination.
Al Rees and Jack Trout believe that 'perception is reality' and unfortunately they're right. If Nokia looks and sounds like a better product, then no matter what Sony Ericsson offer as a product, they'll always be at a disadvantage.
And yes, it's all very well and good to just go along with this ludicrous concept but what we're essentially doing is sacrificing a definition of better which is deeper for one that is shallower. It's bullshit. And the sad thing is, there now exists a multi-million dollar industry dedicated solely to ensuring that this concept be pushed as far as it can go.
Yes there's seven billion of us. Yes there's far too many variables and dynamics to be successfully idealistic anymore, but what bothers me is the flagrant ease with which awesome pure ideals are dropped.
I'm not saying advertising is all nasty. The creative process involved in brand building and the insight derived from analysing consumers is amazing. The kind of work some firms put into humanizing products and brands is incredible. The way stuff like Saatchi and Saatchi's lovemarks extends to better management or the way Audi and Honda ads can leave people with their mouths gaping, is not something you can scoff at.
But not only are these values rare, they honestly appear to be the exception rather than the rule. And I don't know, it kind of seems like that ever-looming air of 'nasty' that lies over advertising is neither something that'll go away too soon, but something that doesn't really deserve to.
Luke Sullivan has this joke which goes something like this:
I've just started dating a devout Christian with a very strong moral fibre. My dad's in jail convicted of murder, my mother's a madam and my three siblings are extortionists. But I'm not sure I should tell her I'm in advertising!