David Cain is (Raptitude) helping me (and many others) “get better at being human.” In this post he explains how television has been used by “very-high-level marketers” to create a nation of people who typically:
- work almost all the time
- absorb several hours of advertising every night, in their own homes
- are tired and unhealthy and vaguely dissatisfied with their lives
- respond to boredom, dissatisfaction, or anxiety only by buying and consuming things
- have disposable income but can’t find a more fulfilling line of work without losing their health insurance
- create health problems for themselves, which can be treated with drugs they can “ask their doctor about”
- own far more items than they use, and believe they don’t have enough
- are easily distracted from the unhealthy state of their lives and their culture by breaking news and celebrity gossip
- perpetually convince themselves it is not the right time to make major lifestyle changes
- happily buy stuff that breaks within a year, and which nobody knows how to fix
- have learned, through the media’s culture of blame-mongering, that the key to solving public and private issues is to find the right people to hate
Wow. Sound like anyone you know?
I’m trying to stop watching the evening network news. A tough habit to break. It’s been part of my life since… well, since the beginning of network news. Thanks to DVR technology I can skip all the adds to which Mr. Cain refers.
My friend (and one of the 5 smartest guys I know) Henry has eliminated “news” completely. Or so he says. I’m not sure how one does that. But if anyone can, it’s Henry. He makes a compelling case that knowing the news adds nothing to his life. He’s very well (selectively?) informed, so…
The excerpts above don’t tell you much about “how to make trillions of dollars” so I encourage you to read the full post if that’s something you’d like to do.
The Blipverts [60 sec video] from Max Headroom’s world (“20 minutes into the future”) grows more real every day:
“Today, the advertisement and entertainment industries are attacking the very foundations of our capacity for experience, drawing us into the vast and confusing media jungle. They are trying to rob us of as much of our scarce resource (attention) as possible, and they are doing so in ever more persistent and intelligent ways. Of course, they are increasingly making use of the new insights into the human mind offered by cognitive and brain science to achieve their goals (“neuromarketing” is one of the ugly new buzzwords). We can see the probable result in the epidemic of attention-deficit disorder in children and young adults, in midlife burnout, in rising levels of anxiety in large parts of the population.
New medial environments may create a new form of waking consciousness that resembles weakly subjective states — a mixture of dreaming, dementia, intoxication, and infantilization.”
As I think and read more about attention and mindfulness, I have a growing appreciation for this precious (and scarce) state of consciousness.
The following listing recently appeared on the Springfield, MO Craigslist:
“I have a functioning time machine (i know it sounds unbelievable, but I assure you it works) that I need a 2nd person to operate with me. I’m looking for someone who is adventurous and reliable. Preferable a male; or a female that can do heavy lifting. I am leaving on January 20, 2011 , in the morning and plan to return February 3,2011. I am going to June 1983 to handle some business.
If you are serious about time travel and are reliable, then please contact me. You do not have to pay anything, but you would have to provide someone to watch my cat for the time we are gone. The only qualifications needed are that you are reliable and that the circumference of your head is no more than 64cm.
We will be leaving from Springfield,Mo. Let me know if you want to go with me.”
My friend David Brazeal responded:
Fortunately, having dabbled in time manipulation myself in the late 1830s, I was able to travel to January 17th, one day after you posted your listing, from which time I am responding.
I am both reliable and adventurous, and well-acquainted with 1983, having spent that summer as an intern in the State Department’s Office of Botswanan Affairs. In addition, I have an elderly aunt who loves cats.
Regarding your qualification that my head be less than 64cm in diameter, I assure you that, although my head is slightly too large for a standard time travel headpiece, I have crafted an adapter from a 1960s Oster beauty-salon hair dryer and the innards of a PlayStation 3 controller.
Please let me know as soon as possible whether you still require a companion for your trip. If you have filled the position, I need to return to January 20 to take some brownies out of the oven.
One more thing…
David is leaving our company (after 17 years) in a month or so, to strike out on his own (uh, should I rephrase that? Fuck it). The post above is just one more example of what I mean when I describe someone as “too funny for their job.”
“over six in ten respondents say they tend to ignore or disregard Internet ads. Among those who ignore online ads, two in five say they ignore banner ads (43 percent) the most, and one in five say they ignore search engine ads (20 percent) the most.”
“people who said they ignore ads on other media: television ads (14 percent), radio ads (7 percent) and newspaper ads (6 percent).”
11% in the 18-34 demo say they ignore radio ads, compared to 6% 55+.
Once upon a time I thought I might like to work at an advertising agency. I had no idea what an advertising agency did but ti seemed like a glamorous job and I was writing and producing commercial for the radio station I was working at, so… why not.
In the years since, advertising has been what put the pay in my paycheck.
Enter the Web (the dragon has come and gone). Like just about every other institution, advertising is being disrupted. In this article at Fast Company, Danielle Sacks talks to some of the players. If you care who said what, you can read the full article. For that matter, if you’re involved in ad-supported media in any way, you should read the article.
“Something digital immigrants would do is make a phone call to make sure someone received an email.”
Our company is like Ellis Island. I receive email from some co-workers and know that I can turn around in my chair and they will be standing there, “just making sure” I received their electronic message.
“Like a beetle preserved in amber, the practice of advertising has sat virtually unchanged for the last half-century.”
“The ad business became an assembly line as predictable as Henry Ford’s. The client (whose goal was to get the word out about a product) paid an agency’s account executive (whose job was to lure the client and then keep him happy), who briefed the brand planner (whose research uncovered the big consumer insight), who briefed the media planner (who decided which channel — radio, print, outdoor, direct mail, or TV — to advertise in). Then the copywriter/art director team would pass on its work (a big idea typically represented by storyboards for a 30-second TV commercial) to the producer (who worked with a director and editors to film and edit the commercial). Thanks to the media buyer (whose job was to wine-and-dine media companies to lower the price of TV spots, print pages, or radio slots), the ad would get funneled, like relatively fresh sausage, into some combination of those five mass media, which were anything but equal. TV ruled the world. After all, it not only reached a mass audience but was also the most expensive medium — and the more the client spent, the more money the ad agency made.”
“The death of mass marketing means the end of lazy marketing.”
“The Internet has turned what used to be a controlled, one-way message into a real-time dialogue with millions.”
“…the most surprising aspect of JetBlue’s agency search was how many firms still believed that the key to solving any business problem was the 30-second spot.”
“We have to figure out how to get paid for the big idea, and what that idea is worth.” — ”People who think that way are supremely well equipped to work in a world that no longer exists.”
“I thought digital was just another medium”
“Collapse is simply the last remaining method of simplification. When the ecosystem stops rewarding complexity,” he writes, “it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.” – Clay Shirky
I have no idea how –or when– this will shake out. Or how much fan poop will come my way. But it’s an exciting time of great change. I describe these as Lawn Chair Moments. There’s going to be a big train wreck and you want to get a good view. But you don’t want to put your lawn chair too close.
More after this brief commercial message.
What does Seth Godin think of advertising? Is it unnecessary? Here is his answer from a blog post at Real Time Advertising Week
“Not unnecessary. Gradually becoming obsolete, though. The cost of the ads goes up, the impact goes down. How can it not? Once people get a TiVo and a Facebook account, the way they allocate their attention changes. And that means the people you most want to reach don’t necessarily want to be reached.”
His answer has been on my mind since I read it. Advertising is “gradually becoming obsolete?” How does someone who works at a company that runs on advertising revenue react to such a statement? A few possibles:
- Seth Godin is a smart guy and he’s been right more than he’s been wrong so we’re fucked
- He’s right but it’s going to take a lot longer than he thinks it will
- He’s partially right. Some advertising is becoming obsolete, but not the advertising that drives our company
- Advertising is changing and we might call it something else but companies will always be willng to pay to to reach their customers with selling messages
- He’s wrong. Advertising is here to stay. Period.
Did I miss any?
Frankly, to even wonder about this feels… heretical. Like questioning the flatness of the earth. I’ve written ads; I’ve voiced and produced ads; I’ve helped sell ads. Always taking it as a matter of faith that they worked. If they didn’t, why are businesses buying all these commercials we air on our (pick your medium)? And that they’d always be around.
Why shouldn’t we have the option of signing a little form that says: ONLY FIRST CLASS MAIL IN MY BOX?
[boingboing.net et al]