31 Aug 2010

The long road from advertising to imbecility

There was once a time, not too long ago, when the smartest guys at the table in a client-agency meeting were the ones in faded jeans and inappropriate footwear.

These were also the guys who could legitimately spend their office hours 'contemplating'. They'd be 'working' while reading a book; watching a movie; playing a game; or even getting plastered.

Along came Adobe Photoshop. And CorelDraw.

While enabling a lot of experimentation in terms of execution, these software managed to shift the focus from the only real 'process' in the Creative process, which was 'thinking' - to 'doing'. Creative briefs today are immediately followed by the expectation that the Art Director and Copywriter will turn to their respective computers - instead of each other!

Today, timesheets attempt to quantify the time spent 'thinking'... Perhaps implying - in a Freudian sort of way - the preference for an unthinking, zombie-like state at other times.

The next abomination to come along was Planning.

Back in the day, Servicing actually had a role to play. They were expected to know intimately, the Brand, the Competition, and that erstwhile holy grail of advertising: the Customer.

Planning managed to obfuscate advertising to such an extend that the Brand, the Competition and the Customer were now mere statistical tables and pie-charts on a Powerpoint slide!

For today's courier-boys in Servicing, the intellectual capacity to remember the client's favourite colour will suffice.

Frankly, Creative and Servicing are more or less redundant functions in Advertising now. Someone even came up with the idea that since Creative spends so much time with software, perhaps a software can replace the idiot operating it...

Enter, software that can do creative advertisements. And there is more than one of the binary critters!

And with the twin evil of Research and Planning having ensured that Advertising, literally, cannot be done without the the manufactured consent and guidance of customer focus-groups... Clients have begun thinking: "Hey! Who needs an Ad Agency when I can just get customers to do everything - from Creative to Media Planning? I am brilliant!"

As always, nature - especially human nature - has a tendency to over-compensate. Advertising guys are hitting back with a vengence. Unfortunately, it is a revoltingly self-defeatist sort of payback!

A surreal situation ensues.

Something akin to coming up with so brilliant a suicide note that you want to show it off to everyone... Even if you've got to kill yourself to do it!

Something akin to Ogilvy trying to 'humanise' a newborn baby's heartbeat for IBM... (Seriously, I am NOT kidding.)

Or something akin to the million-dollar, super-glitzy 'fashion show' for Target Corporation, the second largest discount retailer in the United States, after Walmart!

I'm off to find solace in a movie and Stolichnaya...

Adieu, cruel world, adieu. For tonight.

17 Aug 2010

Apple vs. Agencies + Clients

Mobile ads are low priority in agencies; usually churned out by junior creatives. But with iAd, the High Priests of Perfection at Apple are directly involved in the Creative process - and nothing less than ultra-trendy flawlessness will do!

It seems both Agencies and Clients are finding this out the hard way. (And we have to rely on some amateurish reporting from the WSJ to find out.)

7 Aug 2010

The Zeitgeist Movement: Time to unlearn and reinvent

In precisely 1 hour, 37 minutes and 08 seconds, the following Zeitgeist Movement video presentation takes reality as (you thought) you knew - and tears it down. Clearly. Logically. Effortlessly. And completely.

Exposing the deep, glaring and seemingly irreconcilable flaws. And presenting an alternate, radically different, and possibly better way-of-life for humanity.

There are some notions there, that may shock an open mind, let alone a conservative one. But if indeed there is an iota of truth in this world-view, what really prevents us from moving towards it?

Are our minds, collectively, already in such a unimaginative rut as to preclude the concept of a non-self-gratification-oriented existence altogether?

Oh! By the way, the Advertising industry finds mention. But not in a flattering sort of way!