November 12, 2015

The Glorious Revolution Continues

A spirited debate sprung up last week in Campaign magazine between Dave Trott, a great creative mind, and Richard Cable, of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, a great creative agency.

The debate was essentially about this: What the fuck is "content?"

I've done enough yapping about content (e.g., here and here) so I'll leave you to read the pieces and draw your own conclusions.

But there was something about Mr. Cable's piece that really irritated me.
It was this line about content:
"It’s the stuff that used to be over the wall that we’d built between Church and State until the digital revolution came along, kicked down that wall and told us we could do whatever the hell we liked."
So what we really have going on here is not a serious case for the value of content but another rhapsody to the glorious digital revolution -- the ongoing infantile fantasy of the heroic "digital revolution" that "kicked down" walls and saved us poor fools from ourselves.

I've had enough of this bullshit to last a lifetime. I'm tired of listening to these digital gurus bluffing their way through every argument with overblown self-regard and smug tributes to their glorious revolution.

Mostly what the digital revolution has contributed to the advertising industry is enough hot air to melt the fucking South Pole. Not since Vladimir Lenin took to the streets has there been a revolution that promised more and delivered less.

Here's an accounting of some of the marvelous things their wonderful revolution has given us:
  • The unfettered ability of governments to spy on their constituents through the relentless information gathering of marketers (including this lovely new wrinkle)
  • Monopolistic power in the hands of corporate entities that would never be tolerated "off line." (Amazon is larger than its next 12 competitors combined; Google gets about 45% of all ad online ad dollars; Facebook wields near-monopolistic power in its category))
  • Unlimited pornography at the fingertips of every 10-year-old
  • Huge criminal enterprises anonymously stealing billions from businesses and consumers with impunity.
  • Young people stalking, harassing, and humiliating each other with disturbing regularity.
  • Marketers bamboozled by a never-ending series of digital marvels that never turn out to be quite as miraculous as promised.
If "content" is a valuable marketing activity, great -- show me the facts. But, please, spare me the glorious revolution bullshit.

ON A MORE PLEASANT NOTE... Thursday I'm speaking in Chicago at The Escape Pod. Here's your invitation.

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