May 30, 2014

Cheesegate: It Just Won't Die

I don't usually post on Friday. But the geniuses responsible for Cheesegate refuse to shut up and just let it go away. And you know me, I'm here to help.

Let's recap our story so far:

The Players
Président Cheese - A brand of chéese
Huge - An agency
Business Insider - A tweet machine disguised as a business website
Digiday - A conference machine disguised as a business website
The Drum - "Media Brand Of The Year," whatever the fuck that means
The Ad Contrarian - Media Brand Of The Century. And a searcher after truth, piling up all kinds of clicks by milking this story well beyond its sell-by date
Social Media - Tens of millions of disagreeable people looking to make trouble

Our Story So Far
On May 24, Business Insider (hereafter known as BI) ran a puff piece by a so-called reporter singing the praises of Huge's fabulous social media expertise and particularly how "13 social-media and advertising specialists" were pressed into service to create a Twitter campaign for Président Camembert.

A clever editor at BI, sensing the gold in the story (which the clueless reporter whiffed on) titled the piece We Got A Look Inside The 45-Day Planning Process That Goes Into Creating A Single Corporate Tweet.

Soon the story went from a thinly disguised PR job to a social media nightmare as the cheese hit the fan and the story blew up all over the web's murky marketing basement.

At this point, enter Digiday. Digiday stepped in to run a piece defending the agency and implying that what was really going on was:
1. BI's story was irresponsible. 
2. The process didn't really take 45 days
3. Social media haters were licking their chops over this story and ganging up on the poor agency
Simultaneously, the agency went on a tweet-a-thon, repeating the same messages as their pals at Digiday. You can see some their tweets here.

Okay, fair enough.

Everyone had their say. We all got a few thousand extra hits to our sites; the cheese tweet finally got noticed; the agency got some publicity; and everyone had a few laughs.

But then the Donald Sterling effect reared its ugly head. You see, people who screw up have a compulsion to make things worse by trying to justify their screw-up. So here comes the agency's planning director to the rescue. He wrote a piece for The Drum which you can read here.

In the piece he did a little switcheroo and played it like the BI article claimed it had taken  45 days to write the tweet... 
"Of course it doesn't take 45 days to write a Tweet."  
The BI piece said no such thing. It made it very clear that the 45 days included creative development, planning, meetings, internal reviews, and whatever other useless bullshit the agency could bill the client for.

He then went on to defend their planning process...
"As social has grown from a discipline emerging from the sidelines into a core pillar of the wider digital landscape, it also benefits from the increased professionalism behind the approach.
Really? Here's the thing. When the fruits of your "discipline emerging from the sidelines" get zero retweets and two favorites after almost a month, maybe it's better to save the baloney about "increased professionalism behind the approach" for another day.

Next, he couldn't help taking his shots at social media's mortal enemies -- the nasty devils who aren't afraid to call social media "experts" on their bullshit.

He pointlessly quotes one commenter, "This is an example of everything wrong in the world" then takes a lame shot at traditional advertising " another life, I did once spend four hours in a meeting debating Captain Birdseye's tone of voice. But that was for an ad, so it's fine."


Look, I'm hoping this story never ends because it's rare to find a story that's both a laugh riot and a click magnet. But, honestly, you don't spend time in the agency business without eventually screwing something up royally. We've all done it. Everyone understands it.

So because I love all my children, here's some free advice for the agency -- quit the whining and take your medicine.

Issue the following statement:
Sometimes process can be the enemy of progress. We've learned something from this and are streamlining everything we do.
Then do yourself a favor. Shut the fuck up.

May 29, 2014

Cheese Tweet Damage Control

Cheesegate -- the now legendary (yesterday it was only "soon-to-be-legendary") 45-Day Cheese Tweet holocaust -- is now turning into a Marx Brothers farce.

Everyone involved is tripping in their underwear trying to claim that the story in Business Insider was either false, sensationalistic, or no big deal. Anyone who even touched this thing looks like an idiot (fortunately, I'm already officially recognized as an idiot, so WTF.)

Social media has once again proven that companies wading into it are as likely to get covered in poop as glory. The agency responsible for this mess is now in full-blown damage control mode.

First, they got someone at Digiday to write an apologia claiming that Business Insider got the story all wrong.

The lead in the Digiday story went like this
"When cynicism about corporate social media accounts meets the click-hungry Web, we end up with stories like this one..."
Cynicism? Not only was the Business Insider story not cynical, it was one of the most jaw-droppingly naive and wide-eyed PR softballs ever served up to a bunch of nitwits.

If anything is cynical, it's Digiday's bitch fight with BI. First, they are apparently all light-headed and stricken with the vapors because an online site engaged in click baiting. Someone call the integrity police.

Then their article notes that the original BI story implied that 13 people were at some meeting but in reality only 4 people attended it. Big fucking deal. They use this trivial error try to undermine the credibility of the whole story.

According to Digiday, a VP at the agency said...
“Business Insider tore a page from the British tabloids, and it reflected a lot of the cynicism that people have about social media,” she said. “We can all agree it does not take 45 days to write a tweet.”
Really? Then tell us clearly, exactly how long did this thing take? You want to discredit the story, be specific. According to one of your agency people "about one-third of (the agency's) social-media posts are planned in this fashion..." Is he full of shit or is the reporter? Or are you?

But the icing on this dung-cake is the way the agency has handled it. First, they foolishly invited a reporter into the clown act that is a social media "war room" hoping they would get a little PR treasure. Instead, they got a turd sandwich.

Now they're social media-ing their little tushies off trying to de-fuse the story. Here are a couple of examples:

From the examples above, we can see that producing a tweet doesn't always seem to require...
  • 45 billable days
  •  a copywriter and graphic designer to brainstorm tweet ideas
  • a pitch team meeting with a social media expert, a copywriter, a designer team, and a project manager.
  • an internal review, where senior copywriters and strategists sign off on the work over the course of a week
Unless, of course, some dumb-ass client is paying for it.

May 28, 2014

The Soon-To-Be-Legendary 45-Day Cheese Tweet

If you're looking for a reason to throw yourself under a bus, I suggest reading We Got A Look Inside The 45-Day Planning Process That Goes Into Creating A Single Corporate Tweet at Business Insider.

It is written by someone who, I guess, is supposed to be an advertising reporter. But it's written with the clueless insouciance of a sorority girl wandering into a 9-man circle jerk.

The story goes something like this: a bunch of poor bastards are squandering their young lives in a social media "war room" creating useless nonsense while the agency milks its clients out of thousands of dollars .

Cutting to the chase here, the article tells the story of "13 social-media and advertising specialists" who took 45 days to "plan, create, approve, and publish" a tweet about cheese.

One fucking tweet -- 45 days!

Why? Because only social media specialists can be that fucking stupid.

It takes me 30 seconds to write a tweet and that's because I type with my feet.

The New York Times can publish a 50-page newspaper every fucking day of the year, but these cement-heads need 45 days to make a tweet.

Can you imagine how much money the agency made on that tweet?


You have to read the details of this folly to appreciate the lunacy of it. According to the report, someone from the agency's social media team...
"...met with a copywriter and graphic designer to brainstorm tweet ideas for the next month. It was then that the copywriter suggested a tweet centered on the idea that Camembert, a French cheese popular during the spring, was best served at room temperature.

The copywriter and designer met the next week to create the image for the tweet, which was then pitched at a team meeting... The meeting includes (the social media genius), the copywriter, a designer team, and a project manager.

Then it's on to an internal review, where senior copywriters and strategists sign off on the work over the course of the following week. The post was then sent to Président Cheese and, some 45 days after conception, published on the internet for the world to see."
The world to see? This company has 100 followers on Twitter. My hernia scar has more followers.

And what was the result of this monumental whack-a-thon? This shining star of brilliance:

Can you imagine what this would have been like if they only had 44 days?

Here's the best part.

The tweet was posted on April 30th. As of May 24th it had zero retweets and two "favorites" (I'm guessing the Président and his mother.)

I can tweet a picture of my cat's ass and get fifty times better results. On the other hand, my cat's ass looks a lot better than this incomprehensible photo.

Remarkably, the writer for Business Insider seemed to think this astounding absurdity was admirable and praiseworthy instead of being one of the most insanely wasteful and idiotic abuses of "marketing" the world has ever seen.

Kudos to the agency for pulling off this amazing scam. And to the client, all I can say is... how generous!

May 27, 2014

Welcome To Show Business

The social media and content development hustlers make it sound so simple.

You develop some "compelling" content or useful information and you apply it to your blog or your Facebook page or your website and interested consumers will soon discover it.

You will create a relationship, and these people will be thankful for your useful contribution to their lives, and they will become active ambassadors for your brand.

Well, that was easy.

Only one problem. The whole thing is an infantile fantasy. Let's look at the facts, according to this website...

There are currently an estimated 14.3 trillion live pages on the web. If my math is correct (a highly unlikely circumstance) and the average person does nothing else in her life but surf the web (no eating, sleeping, working, or picking up firemen at bars) it will take her, on average, about 378 million years to get around to your page of content. It's been my experience that some people are not that patient.

There are 759 million websites. If the average person in the US visits 10 websites a day, it will take over 200,000 years to get around to yours. By the way, do you know how long humans have been around? About 200,000 years.

There are about 48 billion web pages indexed by Google. If a person does nothing in her life but random Google searches (no eating, sleeping, working, or picking up bloggers at the unemployment office) it will take her 91,324 years to find your listing.

There are about 450 million English language blogs active in the world. That is 33% more than there are native English language speakers.

So the bottom line is this. If you are anywhere near average, your chance of breaking through on line is approximately zero. Actually, it is exactly zero.

Consequently, if you are expecting your social media presence or your "content" to be anything other than a dead lox stinking up a dusty corner of the web, you have to be in the entertainment business.

You have to either make people laugh, or cry, or bolt upright. You have to amuse them, shock them, or give them something fabulous for nothing.

If you don't, yours will be the typical online organism -- a lonely, unloved creature conversing with no one but itself.

Think I'm exaggerating? Do a little experiment. Post some unadvertised "content" about your fabulous product today. See what happens.

May 22, 2014

The One-Day Agency Reboot

I've been reading all about your agency:
  • You are nimble and agile...
  • You believe a good idea can come from anywhere...
  • You are collaborative...
  • You believe the consumer has greater control than ever... 
  • You are tech savvy and media neutral...
  • You have a proprietary method for gaining consumer insights... 
  • You believe the biggest asset any brand can have is a team of creative, passionate thinkers devoted to its success...
Congratulations! You are exactly like every other agency in the fucking universe. 

As an advertising agency you have the eternal problem: How do you differentiate yourself in a way that means something?

Every day you tell your clients that one of the most important things they have to do is differentiate themselves. But you sound exactly like your competitors.

You are in desperate need of our One-Day Agency Reboot.

The One-Day Agency Reboot takes the ideas you read here in The Ad Contrarian and applies them to operating principles for your agency. We do it at your office in one day. We did it successfully for ourselves for years.

It is a no-bullshit all-day session that gives you simple, specific ideas about how to create a differentiated position and philosophy for your agency.

It is not about putting big pieces of sticky paper all over the walls and writing down your "core competencies" and "best practices" with Magic Markers.

It is about giving you 8 principles on how to think and talk about advertising that will make you look smarter, act smarter, produce smarter work, and attract smarter clients.

You will sound different. You will have a clearly differentiated point of view. You will make better presentations (and, with a little luck, better ads.)

We promise that it will change the way you look at what you do, and how you talk about it to your clients and new business prospects.

You will finally understand what the hell you are doing and why. And you'll be able to explain it in a way that separates you from all the bland jargon-monkey agencies.

If you want more information about our One-Day Agency Reboot, click here.

(For marketers and clients, we are developing a "One-Day Strategy Reboot."  If you are interested, contact us here and we'll be in touch with you when it is ready.)


May 21, 2014

False Goals Kill

Among the many ills that afflict the advertising industry, there's currently one that is epidemic-- the pursuit of false goals.

If you are ambitious and want to reach the upper echelons of your agency, it is imperative that you avoid this disease.

There will come a day when you have to make an important presentation.

There will be a roomful of high ranking clients. You will be presenting the results of an expensive advertising program. You will have charts and graphs and Powerpoint slides and video clips and all manner of stats and data.

You will describe to the attendees how awareness numbers have risen sharply; you will show a chart that demonstrates increasing purchase intent; you will explain how the media buy delivered 8% lower cost-per-thousand than the plan anticipated; you will explain the impressive social media metrics that were achieved, and that brand attributes have risen sharply.

Your contact person at the client organization will be sitting proudly watching you deliver the good news.

But there will be a problem. The problem will be that there will be a smart person in the room. And the smart person will ask one question: What happened to sales?

You will dance and sing and whistle and do ventriloquism. But if the answer is anything other than sales increased, you're dead. Oh, they won't embarrass you in the meeting. They'll wait for you to push the down button and then they'll rip you to pieces.

There is one and only one true goal of advertising -- to sell stuff.

There are plenty of delusional people all around you who don't get this -- your client contact,  planner, account exec, creative director. They want you to believe that that there are other more virtuous goals.

Do not get mislead by these people. Your objective is not engagement (whatever the hell that means) or branding (ditto) or gathering friends or likes, or raising awareness or...

Your one and only goal is to sell shit. Sooner or later, someone smart is going ask what happened to sales. And if the answer is wrong, it's aloha and mahalo.

Remember this, amigo -- there is no quicker route to oblivion than the successful achievement of false goals.

May 19, 2014

Ad Industry Is The Web's Lapdog

One of the important responsibilities of the advertising industry is to be an "honest broker" between our clients and the media.

We have failed miserably.

While we have been aggressive about detailing the woes of traditional media -- the decline of the newspaper business; the problems of radio; the movement away from network television -- we have glossed over or completely ignored the shortcomings of the web as an advertising medium.

We have failed to educate our clients on the serious deficiencies related to web advertising:
It is clear why the ad industry has been complicit with online media in covering up these issues -- the web has become a gold mine for agencies.

WPP, the world's largest agency network, currently derives about 1/3 of its revenue of $16 billion from digital work and is aiming for 45% to come from the web within a few years.

Not only is income from digital sources rising, smart agencies have discovered how to squeeze more profit from this income than from traditional advertising.

For one thing, online work is never done. A website is never finished, a social media or content program always needs feeding, and display advertising always needs optimizing. If you're charging by the hour -- and your profit is built into your hourly rate -- more work always means more profit.

But when you're doing traditional work and you're on a monthly retainer or fee, more work means less profit.

The ad industry has become the web's lapdog -- exaggerating the effectiveness of social media marketing, ignoring the abominable click-through rates of "interactive" advertising, glossing over the fraud and corruption, and becoming a de facto sales arm for the online ad industry.

Self-interest has come into conflict with responsibility.

Guess what's winning?

May 15, 2014

Ad Industry's Unspeakable Trade Press Speaks

The advertising trade press is beyond redemption.

It seems to be populated by people who have never created an ad, never sold an ad, never stood before a client and had to justify what they've done with their money, and never demonstrated an ounce of skepticism about the bullshit they're fed every day by self-promoting hustlers.

The latest example is this slice of baloney from Business Insider, entitled  
"Brands Are Wasting Their Money Hiring High-Priced Celebrities To Appear In Ads."
And what is the justification for this immoderate pronouncement? Some nonsense about sharing of videos on line.

Apparently the author of this article thinks that the purpose of advertising is to have it shared on line.

This is in perfect harmony with the narrative that the trade press has created that the only measure of advertising value is in its online impact.

These people live in a bubble-world of urban hipsters and web-addled media types who have no clue that everyone else in the world just watches tv spots and doesn't really give a flying shit about sharing them on line.

They have no idea that in the pantheon of things pathetic losers do, "sharing" tv spots is in the 98th percentile.

In the gated world of intellectual emptiness our trade press inhabits, online chitchat is the measure of all things

These goobers have no compunction about taking a subject about which they know fuck-all and making grand unconditional proclamations.

"Brands are wasting their money hiring high-priced celebrities to appear in ads?" Really?

 Tell that to Nike, amigo

Okay, before I start getting email death threats from my friends in the press, there are obviously some very good and intelligent ad industry reporters. Some. Unfortunately there are a whole lot more clueless bozos. By the way, last time I criticized these people they did a nasty little hit piece on me. My readership doubled.

May 14, 2014

Television 2.0

Six years ago, in a piece entitled The Web: TV With Its Hat On Backwards, I wrote...
I'm starting to get the feeling that the web's killer app is television.
Then in January of this year in a post called Cloning Television In 2014, I wrote,
I am expecting online advertising to look even more like television advertising this spots will be the 'new' rage.
Well, as usual, The Ad Contrarian is the only ad bozo you can trust. 

The entire digital industry is now rushing headlong into becoming the TV industry.

Yahoo announced this month that they were making a major investment in TV production...oops...I mean "content development." 

They are producing two 30-minute, 8-episode comedy series. They are joining Amazon, Hulu, Microsoft and just about every other web dog you can think of in chasing the tv truck down the street.

Not surprisingly, advertisers are liking the idea of the web evolving into television and are slowly moving money into online video.  

Of course, creating something is a lot easier than creating something good -- a very expensive lesson that Yahoo is about to learn. Or as one TV executive put it...
“It is the pure arrogance of the newly rich and the newly powerful to think content is easy”
But I digress... the big picture here is this: 

The utopian hypotheses behind the web as an advertising medium are spinning madly down the old toilet.

First victim is the "social" theory of web marketing. This has been discredited by Facebook's transmutation into a faux-social media marketing entity that is actually just a traditional advertising machine. Your Facebook page now has more paid advertising on it than a Nascar driver's ass.

Second, as the web morphs into TV 2.0, the idea that the web would be the vehicle by which the traditional "interruption model" of advertising would be replaced by the "permission model" is being exposed as more highfalutin' digi-babble.

While the advertising industry's clueless zombies continue their embarrassing shilling for zillionaire web fat cats, the fat cats know exactly where their bread is buttered.

May 12, 2014

Online "Dying" At Twice The Rate Of TV

Last week I was sent more "TV Is Dead" nonsense.

It came from someone I know (and like) in the ad business -- so I am not going to identify him.

But I am going to provide a little lesson in how otherwise intelligent people who don't understand math are easily mislead and manipulated by numbers and charts.

First let's take a look at this chart that was published on Business Insider.

If you click on it you can see that according to eMarketer (who created the chart) TV's share of total media consumption declined by 1% for 3 consecutive years and then by 4% in 2013. This was cited by the individual in question as evidence that TV was undergoing a slow, inexorable death.

Let's see why these numbers are misleading and why his conclusion is wrong.

To do so, I want you to imagine that you are part of a family of three. You represent 33% of the population of your family.

Then you have a baby. Now there are four of you. You now represent 25% of the population of your family.

You haven't died, you aren't dying, you haven't disappeared or shrunk or evaporated. You are exactly the same as you were before, only your family is bigger -- so you represent a smaller percent of the whole.

This is exactly what's going on with media consumption. There are more types of media being consumed. The amount of TV being consumed hasn't dropped -- in fact, in recent years it is at historical highs -- but the total amount of media being consumed is going up.

This is because of the new baby -- mobile. All you have to do is take a ride on any bus or train and it is obvious that there is a new place and a new way to consume media -- and a new baby in the family.

Consequently, TV (and every other medium) is seeing its share of total media consumption going down. It could hardly be otherwise.

If you look at the chart again, you'll see that as mobile adoption has gone up, all other media types have gone down as a percent of total use. That's because the new baby takes everyone's share of the family's population down. But it doesn't mean that the rest of the family is dead or dying.

Over the past few years, viewing of TV has actually stayed remarkably stable -- at historically high levels. And the effect of smart phone usage on TV has been essentially non-existent.

In the 4th quarter of 2013, the average American spent 2,216 minutes a week watching TV and 8 minutes a week watching video on a mobile device. In other words, between TV and mobile viewing, TV represents 99.6% of viewing and mobile represents .4%.

If you look closely at the chart, you'll see that the adoption of mobile media seems to have had a much greater effect on online's share of media consumption than it has on TV's.

According to the chart, in 2013 TV's share of total media consumption dropped from 42% to 38%, a drop of about 9%. But online's share dropped from 26% to 20% -- a drop of 23%.

So online's share of total media consumption dropped at about 2 1/2 times the rate of television's.

Funny, I don't hear any of the usual blowhard dimwits wailing that online is dying.

(By the way, I am using this graph as an example. I don't for one second accept the numbers as accurate. More about this later in the week)

May 09, 2014

This Is Getting Too Easy

Being a blogger is getting too easy.

All you have to do is take anything anyone in advertising says and call it bullshit and you'll be right just about always.

Case in point:

About two weeks ago we wrote a post called Lots Of Screwing But No Marriage. The post was about reports that the merger between Omnicom and Publicis was falling apart.

Of course, the parties denied it and said the delay in the marriage was due to "legal and tax issues in Europe." Yeah, right.

When Sir Martin Sorrell said the parties were speaking two different languages, we said he was wrong -- they were speaking one language, "the only language they know -- bullshit."

Well, guess what...

I need a more challenging hobby.

May 08, 2014

Advertising And Algebra

When my daughter was five years old -- before she could add or subtract -- I taught her algebra.

One day we were in the car. She must have heard some kids talking about it in kindergarten or heard some reference to it on Sesame Street because she suddenly asked me, "Dad, what's algebra?"

"I'll tell you in a minute," I said. "First I want to ask you a question. That cookie you're eating cost a dollar. How much would two cookies cost?"

She thought for a second, "I don't know...two dollars?"

"Right," I said. "How much would three cookies cost?"

"Three dollars?" she answered.

"Right," I said. "How much would ten cookies cost?" I asked.

"Ten dollars?"

"Bingo," I said.

"How much would a thousand cookies cost?"

"A thousand dollars!"

"You just learned algebra," I told her.

There's a concept in learning theory about "closing the circle." Closing the circle means taking the student almost fully around the idea, but leaving a gap for the student to fill in an insight or an answer.

The hypothesis is that if the student has to fill in the final gap, there will be a much greater chance that something will be learned rather than just heard.

This principle ought to be applied more liberally in advertising. We are always trying to force-feed a conclusion on consumers, when having the consumer draw her own conclusion would be a lot more effective.

I am convinced that advertising that is constructed in such a way as to make a case but leave the final logical leap to the viewer is more powerful.

This is not just true in advertising strategy, it is also true in execution. As Vinny Warren points out in this wonderful post, viewer attention can be enhanced by entering scenes late and leaving early. Not only is it better filmcraft, it requires the viewer to close the loop.

By the way, 13 years later that girl scored in the 96th percentile on her math SATs. Not that I'm the kind of parent who would brag about such things...

May 06, 2014

NY Times: 57% Of Online Video Ads Unviewable

For a long time we have been documenting the double-dealing and fraud that the sharpies in the online ad industry have been pulling on clueless clients.

This week The New York Times reported that the shenanigans going on in online video advertising may be equal to the astounding swindles going on in banner advertising.

According to a piece entitled The Great Unwatched:
  • "...more than half of online video ads are not seen, either because they are buried low on web pages or run in tiny, easily ignored video players on those pages, or run simultaneously with other ads."
  • " ad management platform company deemed 57 percent of two billion video ads surveyed over two months to be “unviewable.”
  • “The advertiser sees a report on an Excel spreadsheet that says, ‘Yeah, these ads ran,’ ” says Matt Timothy, Vindico’s president. “But more than half of them ran without being seen by a human being.”
  • " ad tech company...reported that it had discovered three new botnets that were generating 30 million fake video views a day, earning as much as $10 million a month."
  • "When ads are sold, even the media buyer that was initially given the contract to place the ads may not know where they are running." 
  • "Given the nearly $3 billion a year now spent on online video ads, and the 57 percent of them that are deemed unviewable, it’s safe to assume that American brands are now spending more than $1 billion a year on marketing that few if any people see."
Be sure to read the whole piece as these are just a few snippets.
Let's also recap some of the fraud going on in the banner ad business
  • A report in The Wall Street Journal found that 54% of banner ads run between May 2012 and February 2013 never appeared in front of a live human being.
If the study was projectable, this means that $7.5 billion in banner ad selling probably constituted some degree of deception or fraud.
  • According to Adweek, this could reach $9.5 billion this year.
  • Cnet reports that only 38% of traffic on the web is human. The rest are bots, scrapers, hackers, spammers and other impersonators.
To add insult to injury, the Interactive Advertising Bureau is coming up with guidelines to "police" online video ad viewability. Yeah, let's put Dracula in charge of the blood bank.

The president of a direct marketing firm had this to say, “Whether it’s the publishers, the ad platforms, the agencies that manage these activities. Right now, it behooves almost no one to clean up this mess.”

Oh, it behooves someone all right. But that someone is too fucking stupid to know what's going on.

The people it behooves are the alarmingly clueless advertisers who are being swindled out of billions a year. But they are so dumb and so mesmerized by the bullshit of their agencies and the online advertising crowd that they don't understand how deeply and vigorously they're being screwed.

May 05, 2014

Today We Are Celebrating

What are we celebrating, you may ask?

We are celebrating 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising being the #1 ad book at Amazon for one solid year.

How many ad books does Amazon sell in a year, you ask? Based on the checks I receive, I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say dozens.

Yes, friends, it's a true landmark in literary history. As a cultural milestone, it's right up there with twerking and the invention of the QR code.

Naturally, we all celebrate in our own way.

Some people like to skewer an account planner. They're mighty juicy and good for you (and they're gluten free!)

Some like to chase social media experts around the park (we never condone violence here at The Ad Contrarian World Headquarters. Even against social media experts.)

Some like to dress up as agency CEOs and drive around in convertible cars shouting clichés. It's wonderful training.

It's just a fun day for everyone.

Here's what the Hoffman family is planning to do:

First, we'll be riding in the lead car in the "101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising Day Parade" right down Broadway here in Oakland (by the way, recently named America's Most Exciting City.)

Then, if we don't get shot, it's the big pancake breakfast over at the firehouse.

From there we go upstairs with some of the fireboys and smoke weed for a few hours and watch Spinal Tap.

Then it's nap time.

Then it's time for the big ceremony. We take a copy of the book and wrap it in bacon. We leave it out in the back yard. We load our fire arms and hide in the bushes. The first critter that comes sniffin' around that book, we blow that poor sucker to pieces. Unfortunately, last year it was my neighbor's daughter's dog Fluffy.

Damn shame, though, to waste that bacon.

Anyway, you can't participate in any of this hilarity unless you buy the book. So get your sorry ass over here and git yourself some of that there book learnin'.

(By the way, I think this is what the wunderkinds in the ad vanguard call "native advertising." It's an ad disguised as a blog post. In other words, it's bullshit masquerading as information.)

May 01, 2014

Why I Talk Dirty

One of the questions I get about this blog is why I use naughty words so often when there are plenty of perfectly good polite ones that will do the job.

The question used to come from embarrassed (and worried) colleagues. And it still comes from my wife.

People tell me that dropping f-bombs and other 4-letter words on the blog costs me readers and credibility. That may be true. But I do it anyway.

Here's why.

First, dirty words are not a big deal to me. Having grown up in New York City, every sentence was typically punctuated by an f-bomb. It's how I learned to think and how I talk and I don't see why I should change it when I write. It may not be pretty, but it's the real me.

Second, I think it's a healthy contrast to all the mealy-mouth bullshit being perpetrated by the newly corporatized, sanitized advertising industry. I don't mind being wrong but I do mind being timid. Naughty words have a use -- they remove any hint of ambiguity.

Third, I think Americans are a little more prissy about language than is absolutely necessary. Recently, I gave a talk in London. The night before the talk I was having dinner with the great Dave Trott. Having never spoken in the UK before, I was wondering if the language I was going to use in my talk might be offensive to British sensibilities. Dave, who has lived in both the US and the UK, assured me that the Brits are actually a lot less prudish about language than we are.

Fourth, one of the great things about being an old fart is that I don't really give a shit what people think. If people don't like my language, I'm not going to worry about it. It's not that I'm trying to intentionally antagonize or irritate anyone, but I'm also not going to pretend I'm something I'm not to please anyone. It's one of the very few upsides of senile dementia.

And finally, no matter how bad I am, Parker is worse.