October 15, 2018

The History Of The Future

If you go to marketing or advertising conferences the first thing you notice is that every genius with a Powerpoint deck is an expert on the future.

I attend way more conferences than is healthy.  I've been averaging about 12 of these a year, as speaking at these things is part of my business. I hear all kinds of hysterical and provocative predictions for the future. The one thing I don't hear is anything that turns out to be true.

The history of these future-hustlers is pretty rotten.

So here's a little exercise. Here are a dozen of the biggest advertising stories of the past couple of years. Go back and see if you can find any marketing geniuses who predicted any of the following:
  • Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal (here)
  • Martin Sorrell shown the door at WPP (here)
  • Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress (here)
  • Google fined over $5 billion by EU for illegal activities (here)
  • ANA study finds "pervasive" corruption in media (here)
  • Justice Department/FBI launch investigation of ad agencies (here)
  • Fake news dominates political discussions (here)
  • "Voice" shopping bombs (here)
  • "Brand safety" becomes major issue (here)
  • P&G dumps on digital (here)
  • Major fraud in social media (here)
  • Iconic Y&R evaporates (here)  
The reason you won't find anyone who predicted any of this stuff (okay, maybe there was one guy) is that no one is ever held accountable for their bullshit. Consequently, marketing experts feel free to say whatever the hell sounds good, cash their checks, and know there will never be any consequences.

If you're a marketing genius with a terrible track record, the future is a great place to hide.

This Wednesday night (Oct. 17) in NYC, some smart ad people (and one dumbass blogger) will be talking about heretical ad stuff to support a great new ad book called "Eat Your Greens."  I am told  there aren't too many seats left, so go here now for info.

And, as you may have noticed...
...my posts on the blog have become rather sporadic. I have been focusing my attention on books and on my weekly newsletter. If you like the blog, I suggest you sign up for The Ad Contrarian newsletter here. I'll continue to post on the blog, but the newsletter will be more timely and consistent.

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