March 04, 2013
What's Everyone So Afraid Of?
I am sometimes approached by editors of advertising or media publications to write pieces for them. In the course of trying to convince me to contribute tendentious pieces to their publications (and not get paid), invariably the following sentence is uttered:
"We're so tired of all the bullshit"
Often when I attend a conference and one of those gee-whiz presentations about the latest online advertising magic is made, people will later approach me at the bar and whisper "what a bunch of bullshit." (By the way, I'm at the bar because that's where they keep the pretzels.)
One recent morning I was having coffee with a person who manages media and marketing conferences and he told me that the biggest problem he has in creating interesting programs is that every presenter wants to be the futurist guru who talks about whatever the hype-cycle miracle of the week is, and all the other speakers are too chicken to challenge.
What I want to know is, what's everybody in advertising so fucking afraid of? Why won't people say what they really think? Even after 10 years of totally erroneous "everything is dead" nonsense, are we still too timid to defend our business and stand up to these buffoons?
Why do publishers keep publishing "all the bullshit" if they're so tired of it?
Why will people only call bullshit in whispered tones in the dim confines of the hotel bar?
Why won't speakers get up and speak their minds?
There is a kind of creeping, low-grade McCarthyism in the advertising world. Everyone's afraid to challenge the loudmouths. "Thought leaders" go from conference to conference being dead-wrong, and everyone is so terrified of being thought odd or old-fashioned that they refuse to speak up.
The ad industry is becoming stinkier and stinkier. And I don't know what smells worse, the bullshit or the chicken shit.