November 11, 2019

Upgrading From Email To Fmail

Email was fun, but we can do better.

It's time for us to disrupt the entire personal communication ecosystem. We need to upgrade to fmail.

Email was good for two types of things:
1. Receiving annoying messages from people we know who want something from us, and
2. Receiving annoying messages from people we don't know who want something from us.

The time has come for us to bifurcate. I love to say bifurcate.

Email can remain the system of choice to connect with the people we know. It would be made up primarily of messages concerning...

   - Meetings we don't want to go to
   - Dinners we don't want to eat
   - Parties we don't want to attend
   - Weddings taking place on days we were planning to play golf
   - People cancelling lunch plans
   - Naughty jokes that aren't funny
   - Political opinions that are hilariously funny

Then there's fmail.

First of all, let's not pretend we don't know what the f stands for. Fmail would constitute about 99% of what is currently called email. It would include...

   - Notifications that we have to update Flash
   - Invitations to attend the Double Secret Real-Time Programmatic Insider Summit
   - Amazing deals on airline flights to places we don't want to go
   - Amazing deals on hotel rooms we don't want to occupy
   - It's someone on LinkedIn's birthday!
   - How do rate our recent stay at St. Larry's Hospital?

There are other changes that need to be made to the messaging ecosystem. Just to get the ball rolling... If you're a male athlete, please don't text me pictures of your dick. Also, if you're a Russian female athlete, please don't text me pictures of your dick.

November 06, 2019

Making It Up On Volume

There's a very old business gag about losing money on every sale but making it up on volume.

While the premise of losing on every transaction but making up for it with lots of transactions may be ridiculous, in our confused world of marketing it has become a foundational principle.

Essentially what most brands are doing when they flood the web with idiotic social media posts and self-serving nonsense masquerading as "content" is hoping that their lack of ability to derive a cogent, commanding concept for their brand can be disguised and tarted up with a torrent of moronic bullshit.

They even teach this nonsense in marketing programs with concepts like "always-on" marketing, and denigrate the essence of marketing effectiveness by claiming that "the big idea" is dead.

Of course, when you don't have the talent to create something worthwhile the next best strategy is to declare it dead.

McDonald's former CMO claimed that in 2016 they would create 5,000 pieces of online content. That's one piece of shit content every 24 minutes of the work year. Since starting a Twitter feed, McDonald's have posted over half a million tweets.

Nothing very useful, but making it up on volume.

November 04, 2019

Our Principal Problem Is Principles

In most fields of endeavor progress is achieved by the accretion of knowledge over time.

In medicine, for example, we learned of the germ theory of disease. Then we learned that there were not just bacteria causing diseases, but other agents like viruses. Then we learned that parasites and fungi could also cause disease. But it all started with the basic knowledge that diseases weren't caused by frogs or witch's spells, but by germs.

In aeronautics, the materials we use to make airplanes are completely different from the ones used 100 years ago. But we still use the fundamental design of a fuselage and a pair of wings. The principles of lift and acceleration are still basic to airplane design and function.

Copernicus taught us that the universe did not revolve around the Earth, but that the Earth revolved around the sun. Then we discovered that there were other bodies revolving around the sun, called planets. Then we discovered that that there were stars that didn't revolve around the sun. And then we found there were things that we thought were stars that turned out to be galaxies comprised of hundreds of billions of stars. One thing lead to another.

Advertising is different. We respect no history. We observe no principles. We have no connective tissue.

Every generation tosses out what was learned before and declares it dead. Marketing is dead. The Big Idea is dead. Positioning is dead. Brands are dead. Traditional media are dead.

Every generation invents its own clichés that mean nothing, but for a brief time pass for principles -- likeanomics, engagement, conversations, storytelling, empowerment.

The absence of principles is the dirty little secret behind why we engender so little respect in the business world. A field of endeavor without principles is not a discipline -- it's a free for all.

What are the principles that everyone in advertising agrees on? In most disciplines there are unifying principles. Some examples: Physics has the law of conservation of energy. Biology has natural selection. Medicine has the germ theory of disease. Economics has the law of supply and demand. These are fundamental to the nature of the field. In  advertising, what are the proven unifying fundamental principles that we all accept? If there are any, I don’t know what they are.

We used to believe that creativity was the essence of successful advertising. No longer.
We used to believe that big ideas were the backbone of outstanding advertising. No more.
We used to believe that an agency's primary job was the delivery of outstanding ads to its clients. Not today.

What do we believe in now? Likeanomics, engagement, conversations, storytelling, and empowerment? These aren't principles. These are the tired clichés of a struggling industry.