February 01, 2016

Advertising's Comedy Bitchfight

Here at The Ad Contrarian Worldwide Headquarters, there's nothing we like better than some good old-fashioned internecine warfare.

So we're getting out the Ketel One and the popcorn and settling into our leatherette Barcalounger to watch the Super Bowl of Advertising Schoolyard Punch-Ups over the next few months.

It's the 4As versus the ANA -- and it's a beauty.

In case you haven't been following this ongoing sitcom, here's our story so far:

Last summer, some nitwits from the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) woke up one morning and realized that they were being fucked blind by their media agencies.

If they had been reading a certain blog they would have known this years earlier. But, hey, I'm just a Luddite dinosaur.

So they teamed up with the 4As, (the agency trade association) and decided to create a "Joint Task Force" to develop guidelines for media buying "transparency."

A "Joint Task Force," by the way, is the non-governmental equivalent of a "Blue Ribbon Panel." In other words, a bunch of overfed blowhards who get together at golf resorts to sip white wine and nap.

Well, to no one's surprise, the marketers' definition of "transparency" was somewhat different from the agencys'. The marketers' definition was "open up that kimono" and the agencys' definition was "fuck you."

So, sadly, the Joint Task Force turned out to be one Joint short of a ska band. The whole thing went up in, um, smoke.

Next thing you know, the ANA announces they're hiring not one, but two organizations to investigate the buying practices of the agencies. And one of the organizations employs former FBI agents.

As you might well imagine, this lead to severely diminished bowel control among several agency fat cats.

Now we cut to last week. Without consulting the ANA, the 4As issues something called the "Transparency Guiding Principles of Conduct" which sounds like a chapter out of the Girl Scout handbook, but apparently gives solemn tribute to the concept of transparency while defining it as "whatever an agency can sneak past your lawyers."

To which the ANA responded thusly: In quintessential Gestapo fashion they announced the opening of a snitch "hotline" in which any sniveling malcontent with a gripe against an agency can call in with anonymous accusations.

Isn't this lovely? It makes a guy proud to be an ad blogger.

The best part is, this whole thing promises months of rib-tickling fun to come.

Just one bit of unsolicited advice for the 4As: When's the last time an agency got into a fight with a client and won?

Right, never.

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