August 08, 2013

The View From Nowhere

I am often criticized by those who don't agree with my incautious opinions about the direction of our industry. That's fine. After a while, I don't agree with some of the things I write myself.

But there is one line of criticism that I find truly annoying.

It is the idea that I am a "traditional" ad guy and therefore I don't "get it." The essence of the argument is that my views are tainted by my history.

My views are certainly influenced by my history. Anyone who is not influenced by experience is an idiot. That is different, however, from being tainted.

What these critics don't seem to understand is that there is no "view from nowhere."

Everyone's opinions are shaped by their circumstances -- digital zealots no less than traditional ad people. Their criticism implies that the only valid opinions are those of people who are a blank slate. It assumes that there are people who appeared on earth immaculately (okay, maybe there was one) and whose opinions are free of history and experience. It is not the basis for serious debate.

However, it is the only line of defense for people who can't argue on merit.

Since there is no view from nowhere, perhaps the people those opinions we should value most are those with a "view from everywhere." Those who have seen it all, done it all, and are in a position to provide a reliable narration.

While I certainly do not have a "view from everywhere," I have seen the marketing and agency businesses from a lot of angles. I started on the client side, I became an agency copywriter, graduated to creative director, ran an agency, worked as ceo of a global agency in the US, started a new agency, did both traditional and digital advertising, and have had a degree of success as a social media "brand."

My opinions may be dead wrong. But the criticism that they are tainted because I started as a "traditional ad guy" is as stupid as criticizing a baseball manager because he started as a player.

I know you don't give a shit about this self-serving twaddle, but I needed to get it off my chest.

And also...
A few apologies. First, I have not answered a whole lot of emails and inquiries recently. I will try to catch up. Second, there are over 500 comments sitting in my "needs to be moderated" folder that Blogger automatically singled out for some reason and which I just discovered this week. I will try to go through them and get them up on the website asap. Third, the Giants suck. That probably is my fault.

With that said...
...I'm going to take a couple of weeks off from blogging. I may post a few things between now and the end of August, but for the most part I'm going to shut it down for a few weeks. See You In September. (And to keep you amused, here are some geeks snapping their fingers and pretending they're singing.)


Rob Hatfield said...

I believe I saw that when it originally ran. Brings back some memories. That was such a refreshingly simpler time. I miss it, and I'm glad I got to live it. Enjoy your time off.

Mark C said...

You decide to go on vacation just as Yahoo unveils their 30 logos in 30 days? What about the snark, man?

Cecil B. DeMille said...

As someone whose job is to alter perspectives, my own included, I get where you're coming from. But you cannot force anyone to change their beliefs, no more than the Christians who "Baptized" the Gauls by herding them into a river and firing bows at the waterline to get them to submerge as a priest said the appropriate prayers.

Conversion requires will. Will requires soul. If you find someone with soul still in advertising, buy a lotto ticket. 'Tis a rare breed. Incidentally, I've two mortgages on mine. My insides are all cold, but on the bright side, I have shiny things. They fulfill me. Really they do.

James said...

He doesn't drink the Kool-Aid often, but when he does, he prefers it fact based.

timorr said...

The non-traditionalists who criticize us older folks, in my experience, rarely know anything about "traditional" communication. They remind me of Maslow's dictum, "When all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail." Or, perhaps, "I know what it is to be young, but you don't know what it is to be old."

Peter Levitan said...

I am 12 years old and I like your perspective. It came home to me when you recently wrote that some "new advertising techniques", like interruption video ads on YouTube ("your video will start in 4 seconds", were invented by my grandfather.