March 26, 2010

Reality At The DMV

Last week I had the good fortune to spend an hour renewing my driver's license.

Most people would consider a trip to the DMV about as appealing as listening to a 50-slide powerpoint about search engine optimization while wearing ski boots. But I'm thinking of making a monthly visit to the DMV a condition of employment for everyone on my staff. 

I want them to see what the people they're making ads for really look like. I want them to see the people they never see at the restaurants they go to; never see at the bars they frequent; never see at the focus groups they attend; and never hear from on Twitter.

In other words, I want them to see the "consumer" they're all so very certain they know everything about.

As Eric Mathewson, Founder and CEO of WideOrbit said in an email to me recently:
"There is a huge problem in America where the people making decisions, who grew up in comfortable homes, went to expensive colleges and landed relatively plush jobs, think that the Average American is just like them.   It just isn’t true but this mindset frames enormous decisions in many industries including media."
So, please, do yourself a favor. Go to your nearest non-leafy DMV and spend an hour. And if you come away still thinking that America is on line having "conversations about brands" I'll snap on my ski boots and fire up the powerpoint.

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