July 31, 2008

The Bitter Blogger

You know those lists of favorite blogs that bloggers have on their home pages? They're called "blog rolls." Kind of like egg rolls, except even greasier.

I've done a little survey of marketing and advertising blogs. You know how many blog rolls The Ad Contrarian appears on? None. Zippo. Bupkis. Nada.

Can you imagine that not one of these creepy low-life bloggers would include your and my absolute favorite blog on their blog roll?

And do you know who these bloggers are? We're talking here about people who can't spell; who can't produce a simple declarative sentence; who wear bicycle shorts; who write about Search Engine Optimization; who use words like "engagement" and "monetize"; who have cell phone holsters; who attend "off-sites" and "branding summits"; who sit around hotel bars in leather pants; who drink vitamin water and do pilates; who don't have the balls to use their real names; whose only writing skill is to cut and paste other peoples' mind-numbing jargon; who wear their hats sideways; who scour YouTube looking for ideas to steal; who sip white wine; who I've fired -- twice; who sit at airports with those fucking Bluetooth things in their ears; who buy shoes on line; who don't know the difference between a fact and a fart; who think we give a shit about their moronic Twittering; who drive Subarus; who ask you what your fucking sign is; who hang around with people named Derek and Ian; who go "on holiday"; who eat nothing but seared ahi tuna; who only publish comments from gutless suck-ups; who stand in line all night to buy a fucking iPhone; who... who... whew...

These are the sniveling weasels who aren't listing The Ad Contrarian on their blog rolls.

Me?

Bitter?

Hah!

Here's A Tip:
For all you above-mentioned bloggers -- don't use "Proust" in your post title. I did yesterday and readership went down 33%. All these fucking intellectuals on the internet... I guess I should have entitled it "Amateur MILF In Wild Inter-Racial 3-Way."

Repeat:
I am not bitter.

July 30, 2008

Proust And Advertising

Whenever an ad agency gets fired, I look forward to getting a nice laugh out of the bullshit PR release that always accompanies the firing.

The client asserts how critical the agency has been to their success and how much they respect and admire the agency they're dumping.

Marcel Proust said it best:
"When two people part it is the one who is not in love who makes the tender speeches."
Why You Read The Ad Contrarian:
What other ad blog gives you quotes from Proust? Huh?

July 29, 2008

Immune To Advertising?

Fish can’t see the ocean because they're swimming in it. Apparently there is a whole new breed of marketing pundit who can’t see advertising for the same reason.

Advertising has become so pervasive that otherwise intelligent people think it’s not there. Seth Godin talks about "the death of traditional advertising"; ADWEEK talks about "today's post-advertising world."

I wonder what world these people are living in? There are, however, still some people who can think and see straight.

The New York Times had a review this weekend of a book called Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker

Commenting on the moronic claims of the popular press and pundits that advertising is dead -- and consumers’ delusional beliefs that advertising has little or no influence on them -- the reviewer, Farhad Manjoo, had this to say:
... Advertisers play along, assuring us that we’re tough to persuade; the trade press laments the birth of a ‘new consumer,’ shoppers hopped up on YouTube and TiVo who are said to have developed a strange ‘immunity’ to advertising...

Walker…argues that our susceptibility to marketing arises from our ignorance of its pervasiveness.
Walker, of course, is right. The People Who Always Get It Wrong are, once again, wrong.

July 28, 2008

The People Who Always Get It Wrong

According to The People Who Always Get It Wrong (the press) the American love affair with the automobile is over. No less authority than The New York Times announced this on Sunday.

In a piece entitled Putting The Dream Car Out To Pasture we are subjected to every America/Automobile cliché ever concocted, plus a generous helping of new age socio-babble.
“Beyond the bad economic news may lurk a less remarked shift in Americans’ psyches: a change in the role the automobile occupies in people’s emotional lives and self-image”
Give me a fucking break.

The change in consumer automotive behavior is about one thing and one thing only: the price of gas.

It has nothing to do with "psyches", or “guilt over how much damage the exhaust is contributing to the destruction of the planet” or “self-consciousness about the image… a full-size behemoth…conveys today about its driver.”

It’s the price of gas. Period. Exclamation point. End of story.

No one can predict what will happen to the price of oil in the future, but I will confidently predict this. If the price of gas goes back down to 2 bucks a gallon, people will be right back in their big ass cars and trucks.

July 25, 2008

July 24, 2008

Arguing From The Extreme

One of the really annoying habits of advertising people is arguing from the extreme.

By arguing from the extreme, I mean taking the most extraordinary example of something and using this extraordinary case as if it were the norm.

This has been going on for years. Whenever I would get in a discussion with someone about account planning I would always get an earful about "got milk?" Whenever I would express skepticism about a "branding" campaign, I would always get a lecture about "Just Do It." Whenever I asked for data about the effectiveness of online media I got a recap of "subservient chicken."

I acknowledge that those campaigns were terrific and successful. But they were extreme cases. Extreme cases don't tell us anything about the general, they tell us only about the specific.

How about the thousands of smelly turds produced by account planning? How about the parade of abominable branding campaigns? How about the zillions of commercial web pages that got no hits today.

Arguing from the extreme takes a case that is a couple of standard deviations from normal and pretends it's average. This is nonsense. The fact that "got milk?" is terrific advertising tells me nothing about account planning. It tells me that Goodby made a good campaign.

If you want to convince me that account planning has representated a substantial step forward in the effectiveness of advertising, I don't want anecdotes. I want to see data that show that, in general, campaigns developed with the benefit of account planning are more effective than those developed before planning became de riguer. If you accept what you read in the trades about the diminishing effectiveness of advertising, you'd have to believe the exact opposite.

The fact that Enrico Fermi was a physics genius tells us nothing about Italians. It tells us something about Enrico Fermi.

July 23, 2008

Vacationing Isn't Easy

Aloha.

TAC is vacationing this week on a South Pacific island. In typical fashion, I'm only seeing the dark side. So maybe you can help.

1. How am I supposed to stop thinking about all the gross stuff that's floating around invisibly in the pool?

2. How am I supposed to stop thinking about the sharks that are patrolling the waters looking for tasty morsels like me?

3. How come I can hit a golf ball in every direction but straight?

4. Those guys with all the muscles and washboard bellies -- are they the same species as me?

5. When drinking mai tais, how do you maximize the buzz to acid-reflux ratio?

Just asking.

Mahalo.

July 18, 2008

Backpedaling To Victory

Now that some of the more preposterous claims made by Web 2.0 maniacs are being challenged by data, TAC predicts you will start to see some heavy backpedaling. The backpedaling will come in a few different forms:

Redefinition: "Social media doesn't really mean..."; "The Long Tail doesn't really mean..."; "Conversation doesn't really mean..."

Blaming the victim: "Companies just don't know how to use social media properly"; "The conversation isn't happening because the marketer..."

Revisionism: "You can't judge the strength of a 'community' by numbers..."; "You can't judge the strength of a 'community' by dollars..."; " 'Conversation' isn't the same as 'word of mouth'."

Remember, you read it here first.

July 17, 2008

The $10,000 Conversation

Social media marketing is a huge waste of money. That's the gist of an article in The Wall Street Journal yesterday.

I've been writing -- some hardened souls might say ranting -- about the stupidity of social media marketing for quite some time. (If you're new here, you might want to read: The Mindless Herd, Sure To Fail, Clueless, The Cluefree Manifesto, How The Narcissistic Keep In Touch With The Feckless, Is The Conversation Over?, and It's The Heavy User, Stupid.)

The Journal yesterday had a nice little piece called "Why Most Online Communities Fail"
"...most of these efforts produce fancy Web sites that few people ever visit...a study of more than 100 businesses with online communities...(showed that) Thirty-five percent of the online communities studied have less than 100 members... despite the fact that close to 60% of these businesses have spent over $1 million on their community projects. “A disturbingly high number of these sites fail..."
Can you imagine these morons spending over a million dollars and attracting fewer than 100 people for their precious "conversations?" At over $10,000 a pop, those conversations better be fascinating.

Why are they pissing away their money like this? Two reasons:
  1. Their idiot agencies are filling them full of bullshit, and they're buying it.
  2. If you look over on the right hand column and scroll down a little, you'll see one of TAC's time-honored axioms -- "There's no bigger sucker than a gullible marketer convinced he's missing a trend."
I rest my case.

July 16, 2008

Why The Web Is A Lousy Ad Medium

What if you picked up the telephone and instead of getting a dial tone you got an ad?

What if you picked up a dictionary and instead of finding a definition you found an ad?

In both cases you'd be angry. Why? Because the telephone is a medium of communication and you don't want to be slowed down. The dictionary is a medium of information and you don't want to be sidetracked.

On the other hand, you turn on the tv every night and the first thing you see is an ad. It may be mildly annoying, but it doesn't make you angry. Why? Because tv is primarily a medium of entertainment, and you are accustomed to entertainment media carrying advertising.

The web is a little of each -- part communication medium, part information medium, and part entertainment medium. However, because the web started as a medium of communication and information, we learned early to resist being slowed down and sidetracked on the web. That's why display ads are so stunningly ineffective.

The ironic thing about the web -- new age marketing theory notwithstanding -- is that it won't be an effective advertising medium until it more resembles television. That is, until it is more of an entertainment medium and the advertising is embedded in the entertainment.

On The Other Hand...
Search is effective. But is it advertising or something else? Stay tuned.

July 15, 2008

Social Media and The Heavy User

If you promise not to tell my competitors I'll tell you a secret.

One of the keys to being successful in the advertising business is to target the "heavy user." By heavy user, I mean the high value customer who spends a lot of money in your category.

Without going into detail (if you want detail, read The Ad Contrarian book) the key points are these:
  1. In many categories one heavy user can be worth as many as 10 to 20 light users.
  2. Some "light user" customers can actually cost you money because the expense of marketing to them is more than any possible ROI.
  3. Brands that attract the heavy users tend to be the leaders in their categories.
One of the axioms of social media marketing is that people who engage in online conversations are exceptionally valuable to marketers because they tend to be extraordinarily influential. In It's the Heavy User, Stupid I stated my objections to this hypothesis.

Now I'd like to state another. Social media marketing may turn out to be a light user strategy. In other words, the people who engage in social media may be the customers you don't want to spend your marketing dollars on because a) they may be your category's light users and b) may be influential only to other light users.

Here's my logic. Heavy users tend to think of themselves as experts in the category. Wine lovers think they know wines. Women who buy lots of handbags think they know handbags. In fact, they're usually right. They often know more about the category than the marketers do. Don't believe me? Ask your daughter about cell phones.

Take me for example. I travel way too much and know way more about hotels, restaurants, airlines and car services than is healthy. I consider myself an expert in these categories. And I'm the high value traveler every hotel wants.

If I am traveling to a new city, the absolute last thing I would do is go on line to some social travel site to check out hotels. Why? Because I consider those sites to be appropriate for grandma and grandpa who travel once a year -- not for me. As a self-defined expert I would never take a recommendation from one of those sites seriously. I've tried them. They're a joke. Search? Maybe. Social media? No way.

Most often, the place I'd go for a recommendation is to another heavy traveler.

I believe this same phenomenon occurs across lots of categories.

As the web evolves and is more democratized, opinions, comments, and conversations are less likely to be conducted among the knowledgeable and more likely to be conducted among the sociable. Experts in your category -- the heavy using, well-informed, high value customers -- may regard these conversations as frivolous and irrelevant.

It's still early days for social media. Take nothing for granted.

Afterthought
One exception to this will be the tech sector. I'd bet heavy usage in tech categories correlates to online jabbering. Geeks dig the web.

July 14, 2008

6 Things Creative Directors Need To Know

On Friday we talked about why creative director is a stinky job. Today we're going to talk about the only saving grace: making good ads. Below is what I think I've learned about that. Some of these thoughts have appeared in TAC before.

Six things you need to know if you're going to be a happy, healthy creative director.

1. Hiring is everything.
If you have terrific people, the advertising business isn’t that difficult. If you have mediocrities, advertising is impossible. For your own self-preservation you must get rid of bad people and hire good ones. There is no other way to do good work and have a happy life. Talent is a rare and precious thing. The idea that "we're all creative" is absolute bullshit. Mediocre talent never makes terrific ads. Never.

2. Avoid the “tyranny of strategy.”
Strategies are not written by God. They are written by planners, researchers, account execs, clients and other mildly retarded mortals. Good creative people often have a better feel for the problem than the committee that wrote the strategy. When you are evaluating a campaign idea, it’s not enough to say ‘this is off strategy’. You must also ask yourself, ‘is this a better strategy than the one we have?’

If the answer is yes, you’re going to have a lousy week. You have to go back and un-sell a strategy that has probably taken months to develop, has been up and down the client organization, and has lots of (probably irrelevant) research to back it up. Somehow, you have to convince a whole bunch of people that all the work they’ve been doing for the past few months is wrong.

Sound impossible? That’s why you get the big bucks.

3. Be eternally skeptical of grand strategic insights:
Planners, researchers and their ilk love to take a little information and turn it into a heroic vision. Beware of this. Most valuable insights are small and contingent. There is almost nothing you can say about human behavior that is universal. Including this.

I was once at an advertising conference and a planning director was making a presentation. She was talking about groups she was conducting for a bank. The groups were going nowhere. She asked a participant “If you could invent the perfect bank, what would it be like?” He sat there for a minute or two without answering.

“I suddenly realized,” she said, “I had the answer right there before me. People don’t want to think about their bank. Then I knew I had the strategy: Bank of Whatever-It-Was. It’s the bank you don’t have to think about.”

I have a different explanation for the above. She asked a stupid question and the respondent sat there dazed and confused.

From the flimsiest of observations, she drew a grand, idiotic conclusion. And worst of all, the agency and the client bought it.

4. Simplify and specify:
I‘ve seen thousands of ads that were too complicated or too generic. I’ve never seen one that was too simple or too specific.

5. Remember why people buy stuff:
There is an old blues song that goes like this:
Feelin’ good
Feelin’ good
All the money in the world spent on
Feelin’ good*
The guy who wrote that lyric understands marketing better than all the Stanford MBA’s I’ve ever worked with put together. That’s what commerce is about – people spending money to acquire things they think will make them feel better.

Save your dark, pessimistic vision for your screenplay. Which reminds me...

6. You’re a salesman, not an artist:
Want to be an artist? God bless you. So do I. I wish us the best.

But first you probably need to quit your day job. As a creative director, your job is to sell stuff. If you don’t like that, I don’t blame you. It’s dirty work and hard on the creative ego.

However, if you are not comfortable being a salesman you will not be comfortable or successful being a creative director.

Does this mean it’s impossible to create advertising that rises to the level of art? No. Every generation has a few people who can do that. But trust me on this one, it ain’t you.

* by J. B. Lenoir, Jim Dickinson

July 11, 2008

I Can’t Stop You From Becoming A Creative Director...

...but maybe I can stop you from becoming a lousy one.

I was an ad agency creative director for over 20 years. It’s a stinky job.

I’ve been a copywriter, a creative director, president of an international ad agency, and ceo of my own agency. By far, creative director was the most difficult, frustrating and horrifying.

One of the reasons the job is so difficult is because you have four different constituencies, each with its own unique self-interest.

First is the client. The client wants to sell stuff. She probably has lousy taste in ads and most likely thinks and speaks in marketing clichés. But she knows how to make graphs. And she gets very upset when this month’s graph is less happy than last month’s.

The next constituency is your agency’s management. They want to make money. They, too, probably have terrible taste in ads and probably speak in marketing cliches. But they know how to make money. The way they do it is by getting new business. And the way they do that is by you making ads that get noticed and talked about.

Third is your account services department. They want to avoid conflict. They’re really tired of getting yelled at all day, and all they want are ads that keep them out of hot water

Fourth is your creative department. They want to win awards and get better jobs somewhere else. They see this as your responsibility. They expect you to be the defender, promoter, and champion of their brilliance.

As a creative director, you have to convince each of these constituencies that you are putting their interest first. Of course, this is impossible. What you really have to do is ignore all this nonsense and make sure you’re turning out really good ads. If you make really good ads, all constituencies will be served.

So, how do you make really good ads? Tune in Monday for 6 tips.

July 10, 2008

It's The Heavy User, Stupid

One of the biggest problems that many marketers are facing is that they are too deeply invested in a questionable online philosophy.

The philosophy is centered on "social media" (blogs, networking websites, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) For the sake of this post, I’m going to call this philosophy New Age Marketing .

Whatever you call it, this philosophy centers around three hypotheses:
  1. That online social media are uniquely suited to create "conversations" among consumers.
  2. That people who engage in online conversations are more valuable to marketers than the average consumer.
  3. That the web allows businesses to make more money selling niche products to niche markets than selling blockbuster products to a mass market (The Long Tail.)
In the past few weeks, we've seen pretty convincing evidence that #1 and #3 are probably wrong.

First, a study by a Harvard marketing professor showed that The Long Tail theory is wrong and that online retailers are actually more dependent on blockbusters (see Long Trail of Baloney.)

Then a Yankelovich study indicated that offline consumers are more likely to engage in marketing conversations than online consumers (see Is The Conversation Over?)

While these studies are not definitive, they certainly raise big questions about two of the three pillars of the New Age Marketing model. (They also raise questions about the willingness of New Age Marketing gurus to accept and disseminate "information" about online marketing without the benefit of supporting data. But that's another story.)

The best hope for the New Age model is hypothesis #2 above -- that people who engage in online conversations are more valuable to marketers than the average consumer.

As I mentioned in Is The Conversation Over?, I find this argument to be obnoxious, elitist, and self-congratulatory. It's the online crowd claiming, once again, that they and their ilk are superior to the poor slobs who aren’t perpetually on line. Or, as The Wall Street Journal said about The Long Tail,
“...it flattered its readers, many of whom were in the tech industry, by suggesting (yet again) that the Internet was changing everything..."
The fact that I find this obnoxious, however, doesn't mean it's wrong. It could turn out that the online chattering class are more valuable than average customers. I doubt it, but it's possible.

What the New Age model is certainly right about is that some customers are more valuable than others. The problem is, they’re wrong about who that Most Valuable Customer is.

The true Most Valuable Customer is not the online conversationalist, it’s the heavy user in the category. In many categories of business, heavy users -- people who spend lots of money in the category-- can represent fewer than 30% of customers but more than 70% of sales.

To my knowledge there is no data to support the idea that heavy usage in a given category correlates to online jabbering.

Until there is evidence that online conversationalists are the heavy users in your category, you would do well to remain skeptical of trendy New Age Marketing chitchat and focus your attention on finding and influencing the heavy users in your category.

Don’t assume that just because they are Most Valuable Customers they are engaged in social media. And, most important, just because they are engaged in social media, don’t assume they are Most Valuable Customers.

And Don't Forget:
Targeting the heavy user is one of the 3 principles of Performance Based Advertising you will find in The Ad Contrarian book. Click here to download. It's free and worth every cent.

July 09, 2008

Gleeful And Proud

Some commentors yesterday accused me of being unbecomingly gleeful over a Yankelovich study which showed that social media ain't all that fabulous in creating "conversations" about brands.

I plead 100% guilty.

Frankly, I'm fully fed-up with the incessant stream of baloney I'm exposed to about Web 2.0 and social media. Here's this week's nominee for grand marshal of the double-talk parade. From ADWEEK...
"...in today's post-advertising world...the Web becomes the preferred destination for brand exploration....Start by becoming skillful at story listening so you get to understand your story as it lives in the hearts and minds of your consumers..."
Give me a fucking break.

"Post-advertising world?" Advertising is everywhere. On every shirt, taxi, wall, dry cleaning bag, and license plate. You can't take a piss without hitting advertising. Post advertising world my ass.

"Preferred destination for brand exploration?" On what planet, I'd like to know, are people seeking a "destination for brand exploration?"

As for "story listening," please excuse me while I go kill myself.

Do these people know how to do anything other than cut and paste each others pompous bullshit?

Look. I know social media can be effective. I know there are some terrific success stories. I know it works nicely in some categories. What drives me nuts is the dreadful language, the inflated promises, the overstated claims, and the constant stream of self-congratulatory nonsense.

It's just one more medium. A new world hasn't begun or ended because of it. In order to be useful, the web doesn't have to vanquish everything else. Would everyone please just calm the hell down and use your heads.

Afterthought:
If yesterday's post pissed you off, you're really gonna hate tomorrow's.

July 08, 2008

Is The Conversation Over?

One of the axioms of Web 2.0 zealots is that "markets are conversations" and that online social media (blogs, networking websites, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) are uniquely capable of stimulating "conversations" among consumers.

Just one tiny problem. They're wrong.

On June 18, some facts arrived. And I think the social media maniacs are going to find the facts a little disturbing.

According to The New York Times, a study done by Yankelovich indicates that...
…”ads that made an impression in traditional media were more likely (emphasis mine) to stimulate word of mouth than ads that made an impression in digital media…
In other words, traditional media stimulated more "conversations" than digital media.

This is going to be very unsettling to the social media crowd. Although some acknowledge that social media marketing is alarmingly inefficient by standard measurements, they claim that the true value of social media is that it stimulates conversations among consumers which leads to "engagement" with the brand -- whatever the hell that means.

Well, I'm sorry guys, but the facts say something else. Not only does the report claim that traditional advertising creates more "conversations" than social media, it also reports that traditional advertising is about 50% more likely to make a positive impression, and about 50% less likely to make a negative one.

I expect the argument from social media militants will now be that social media reach a higher quality of person than traditional media -- the “who you reach is more important than how many you reach” -- argument. To me, this is an obnoxious, elitist, and self-congratulatory argument. And, as usual, it will be made without an ounce of data to support it.

As of now, the data say that traditional media are better at stimulating "the conversation" than digital media. And as we say around the agency, no one is smarter than the facts.

Afterthought:
How will "social media" advocates deal with this finding? Simple. Just like ad agencies dealt with the findings from TiVo that consumers were more likely to watch a retail or direct spot than a brand spot. They'll ignore it.

July 07, 2008

Two...Two...Two Blogs in One.

THE PHONELESS PHONE

Hey...old person...yeah, you...I have news.

Apparently email is over. Done. Kaput.

I discovered this slowly as my emails to my daughter went unanswered. When I asked about it I was told, "I never check my email."

At first I chalked this up to standard teen pigheadedness. But then I realized she really doesn't check her email.

I spoke to other old farts. I found out that some kids don't even have email addresses anymore. Too old fashioned.

Also, their cell phones are not used for talking. They are mainly texting devices.

Here's a new product idea: a cell phone with no phone.

It probably exists already, right?

CELEBRITY MORON ROUNDUP

A few weeks ago, celebrity moron Susan Sarandon said that if John McCain won the election she would leave the country. So far, so good.

But now, celebrity moron Stephen Baldwin says that if Barack Obama wins he'll leave the country. We've got a problem here people.

But wait... isn't every problem an opportunity?

Here's the plan: we get all the Hollywood nitwits to commit to leaving the country if one or the other candidate wins. Then we get McCain and Obama to agree to a co-presidency (hey, they can't hate each other as much as the Clintons, and they had a co-presidency.)

Everybody wins. Everyone's candidate is in the White House. And the country is rid of hundreds of big-mouth creeps who think we give a shit about their stupid opinions.

Who's in?

Remember:
What is an actor's genius? He's good at pretending.

July 03, 2008

The Long Trail of Baloney

Another pillar of Web 2.0 is crumbling. It looks like The Long Tail is just a tall tale.

The Long Tail theory, developed by Wired editor Chris Anderson, proposed that the web made it possible to make more money selling niche products to niche markets than selling hit products to a mass market. In other words, Amazon could make more money selling erudite books to humanities majors than selling The Da Vinci Code to beachgoers.

According to The Wall Street Journal...
"Since appearing two years ago, (The Long Tail) has been something of a sacred text in Silicon Valley... If you demurred, you were met with a look of pity and contempt...
A new study by Anita Elberse, a marketing professor at Harvard's business school, says not so fast.
"...Prof. Elberse looked at data... and discovered that the patterns by which people shop online are essentially the same as the ones from offline. Not only do hits and blockbusters remain every bit as important online, but the evidence suggests that the Web is actually causing their role to grow, not shrink...

...Some of the reasons for the popularity of the Long Tail were as interesting as the idea itself. For one, it flattered its readers, many of whom were in the tech industry, by suggesting (yet again) that the Internet was changing everything..."
Regular readers of TAC may remember back to last September when we wrote The Long Tail and The Fat Head in which we said...
"As usual, a whole lot of marketing people with low reading comprehension have completely misunderstood (The Long Tail.) They think it means they should focus their marketing efforts on trying to sell their products to light users or non-users in their category.

I have dubbed this phenomenon The Fat Head. The Fat Head states that only a fathead would waste his marketing dollars trying to sell golf balls to tennis players.

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of fatheads."
Coming next week...
Debunking another bonehead pillar of Web 2.o -- the "conversation."

July 02, 2008

Thank God It's Over

If you're a regular here at TAC, you know that since last December we've been railing against a series of web films created for the Ritz-Carlton (see Ritz Bits, Web Films vs Bagels, This Film Is Rated T For Torture, and Worst Of The Web.)

Well the third and final film has been released and it's every bit as awful as the other two.

First, it's in black and white, so you know it's "art."

It features three of the most repulsive and phony cardboard characters you can imagine. In the unlikely event that monstrosities like these three could actually exist in the real world, they would never have made it out of high school in one piece. Their roles in this "movie" are to look arch and drop brand names.

Why Ritz-Carlton thinks anyone in his right mind would want to go someplace where creeps like this hang out is beyond me.

The movie ends by ripping off a 2o-year-old gag from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

These web films are an abomination and a perfect example of how "brand babble" has infected the marketing industry. These films tell us nothing useful about Ritz-Carlton. But I'm sure they were sold to R-C as "branding." In fact, the only thing they do for the Ritz-Carlton brand is make regular customers like me think they are alarmingly out of touch with reality and shamefully wasteful.

The marketing director should be fired for this hideous misuse of money.

As luck would have it...
I spent last night at the Ritz-Carlton in Denver. Thankfully, their real customers are a lot pleasanter than the obnoxious weasels in their web films.

July 01, 2008

One Year Later

Today is the first anniversary of The Ad Contrarian blog.

Ten days into it I thought I had run out of things to say. Apparently I have a bigger mouth than I imagined.

Five Things I've Learned About Blogging This Year:
  1. It ain't easy being entertaining every day. Or ever, for that matter.
  2. The biggest asset a blogger can have is insomnia.
  3. The professionals (the ones who blog for money) are way better than the amateurs (people like me.)
  4. There are an alarming number of lifeless, dreary, poorly written blogs about advertising and marketing that are way more popular than TAC. I'm bitter.
  5. It's better to be wrong and interesting than right and dull.
I Want To Thank All The Little People:
And a few big ones. First, thanks to my frequent commenters: John Joss (you really need to start a blog), Tedel, Giania, Timothy Coote, GirlPie, Roger, James, Jay Ramirez, Sonia, Shanty and all the others. It's the commenters that make blogging interesting and I thank you for keeping me on my toes.

I also want to thank the people who've had nice things to say about TAC on their blogs. These include Timothy, ad broad, Brian, Sonia, Naomi, James, Cory, StreetShark, SottoVoce, Michael, Marc , Marblehead, David, Simon. If I've left you out, I'm sorry. To the people who've had nasty things to say, screw you.

Here's The Interactive Part:
I would like an anniversary present from you. Please copy the paragraph below and email it to 3 smart people. If you don't know 3 smart people, send it to 3 marketing people.
There's a blog I read that I think you might like. It's called The Ad Contrarian. You can find it at http://adcontrarian.blogspot.com. Hope you enjoy.
And Another Thing:
This blog is a personal thing. I try to keep it as far away from my business as possible (it doesn't even have a link to our company website.) The reason for this is, I don't want my partners to feel like they have to answer for my stupid opinions.

Nonetheless, this week we ended our 4th consecutive record year and I have to thank all our great people who make it happen. I also want to thank the new clients we're working with this year (Horizon Organic, Pebble Beach, and Rachel's), and of course, all our long-term clients (you know who you are.)

Afterthought:
I've done all the thanking I'm gonna do. The anniversary party is over. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

PostAfterthought:
Okay, just one more thank you. Thanks, gentle reader, for a fun year.