May 23, 2009
[“Gin And The Cognitive Surplus”. The REAL reason why Madison Avenue is in crisis, the reason nobody in the industry ever talks about. Watch Clay Shirky’s video above, or read his blog post on the same subject.]
Some years ago, me and some fellow advertising creatives gathered at Dave Carlson’s apartment in Chicago, to watch a TV show, drink some alcohol and generally socialize. I can’t remember what TV show we were watching; I do remember that the show was two hours long and had LOTS of commercials.
So like the “industry-insiders” that we were, while the commercials were broadcasting we’d do running commentary on them. “Oh, that’s shit.” “Nice boobs.” “Wow, I like that car!” “Man, who wrote THAT godawful tagline…?“
Two hours later, the show ended. Everybody came to the same conclusion. Two hours of commercial bombardment later, only TWO of the commercials we thought were even remotely good, from a creative and/or professional standpoint. The rest– dozens of them– were complete, useless, noisy dreck.
This 95%-5% Dreck/Quality ratio is about right. An advertising creative wins the occasional award now and then, but 95% of the time, she’s producing dreck. Work three years in an ad agency if you don’t believe me.
The internet, which now dictates the terms of media to TV, a lot more than vice versa, doesn’t handle dreck very well. On the internet, dreck is really easy to ignore, dreck is really easy to kill. So people do ignore it. Sadly, Madison Avenue is not culturally equipped to handle this kind of Dreck Intolerance. Their business model won’t allow it. And like the newspapers, their Pension Fund shareholders won’t allow them to change their business model, no matter what’s happening out there in Reality-ville.
Yes, it’s a bit of a problem…
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