Or: your Old World agency viewpoint is killing your New World agency profitability

This is a story that originates from the world of advertising, but reaches deep into a specific problem plagued by many industries these days.


How do you know if this might relate to your job if you’re not in advertising? Here’s a quick test. There’s a guy at your company named Jim. Jim has a very specific skill set and is supergood at what he does. You’d like Jim to work his magic on one of your upcoming projects.

How hard is it for you to secure Jim’s time? How many people do you need to ask? How many of those people will resent you for asking? How many people will wage a passive-aggressive office war with you so that Jim will continue working on their project instead of yours? …

Or: two pieces of advice for less-than-amazing companies

Nothing kills bad products like good ads.

That’s not a direct quote from Bill Bernbach, but it’s certainly a sentiment he promoted in the late ‘60s. Bernbach was one of the founders of Doyle Dane Bernbach (now DDB) and is certainly one of the godfathers of modern advertising. He was brilliant and made Don Draper look like Mr. Bean. If only Bernbach could have lived to see the current predicament of companies in the Internet age.

These days, bad products don’t need advertising to help them fail. All it takes are a few disgruntled customers with Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds, Foursquare commentary or a Yelp compulsion. It’s easier to complain than ever. …

Or: why “Imported from Detroit” is the most memorable TV spot of the 21st century

[This is a companion piece to “The Voice Test, Or: why everyone understands that Morgan Freeman is the most powerful person on Earth.”]

During the 2011 Super Bowl, Chrysler ran one of the best TV spots in recent memory. It starred Eminem, the Chrysler 200 and the Selected of God gospel choir on the stage of the Fox Theater. But the hero of the commercial — the true protagonist — was the city of Detroit.

Imported from Detroit” was 120 seconds of well-crafted emotional power that used Detroit’s isolation in America — geographically, culturally, criminally, artistically — to its advantage when introducing Chrysler’s new line of luxury sedans. …

Or: why everyone understands that Morgan Freeman is the most powerful person on Earth

“It is hard to hear the sound of your own voice. But that sound may affect other people’s impressions of you even more than what you say.” So starts Sue Shellenbarger’s Wall Street Journal article, “Is This How You Really Talk?

Part Barry White. Part Hee Haw.

I am keenly aware of my own voice. I have to be. Twenty years of Marlboros, Guinness and tequila enhanced a genetic baritone. Now my voice can penetrate multiple layers of drywall and glass, so that people a few offices down from mine know everything about my work and personal life. …

A Love Song to Newton’s Laws of Motion

Let me save you the trouble of reading this. There are many personal anecdotes, ponderings and ramblings here. Many will say too many. All of these musings are meant to disrupt the popular belief that fate happens to you. That fate is passive. That fate is solely predetermined by the hand of a larger force — possibly divine. That you should wait on fate.

I’m not saying there isn’t a divine force — a God, many gods, an energy, a collective consciousness. I don’t know. I don’t know anyone who knows, who can offer proof. I know a lot of people who can offer personal anecdotes and ponderings in defense of something. I know a lot of people who can offer scientific evidence in defense of nothing. …

Not long ago, I had lunch with someone in the same-ish industry with the same-ish title but in a very different place in life. Let’s call that person Bob.

Bob is probably five or six years younger than I am. Maybe even eight or ten. Over less-than-mediocre chicken wraps (yay, Bob’s treat!), we talked about things. My history. Bob’s history. My work. Bob’s work. My philosophy. Bob’s philosophy.

At a certain point in the conversation, I realized Bob saw me as an old fool. A has-been. A washed-up nobody past his prime. …

Long before I could publish anything at Medium, I stumbled around the site, moving from post to post to post. I was excited by what I saw. When I’m enthusiastic about something, I tell everyone who will listen. This is typically about four people.

The four people I told about Medium, all said roughly the same thing: “I don’t get it. How is it different than simple blogging?” I was stumped. I knew there was an answer, but I didn’t know how to articulate it.Every time someone posed the question, I’d mutter something about “community.” …

Advertisers are perplexed and a little angst-y.

I know this, because I work in advertising. Wait. Don’t stop reading because I admitted that. This isn’t about advertising. It just happens to start there.

“Teens Are Leaving Social Media in Droves Oh My God We’re Doomed Hold Me”

A few weeks ago, that was basically the subject line in every advertising industry newsletter. The source of the panic was a just-released study by Piper Jaffray that asked 5,000 teens to name their “Most Important Social Media Site.”

The result? Many old-school social media sites saw a fairly significant dip in preference over six and twelve months.

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Facebook obviously took the hardest hit, losing close to ten percentage points in a year. YouTube, Tumblr and Pinterest all lost, too. (Note: There are some things for which I will have exactly zero deductive speculation. Teens’ rekindled preference for Google+ tops that list.) …

As soon as I walked out of the conference room, a coworker and fellow runner asked if I’d heard about the bombs. I hadn’t. I walked directly to my desk and started checking Twitter and Tumblr. By the relatively low volume of tweets and posts—and by the lack of information they contained, other than announcing some kind of explosions at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon—I could tell that whatever happened hadn’t happened very long ago.

I soon found a video stream on my laptop. That was a mistake. It was so soon after the actual event that there wasn’t enough film recorded to form an editorial loop. I was watching live, raw footage at the finish line. It was chaos. There were turnstiles and barriers scattered through the street. There were first responders running through frame every few seconds. There were groups of people surrounding the injured. Often, someone in those groups would glance over their shoulder, their eyes pleading for something, anything, anyone to arrive and provide help for the injured in front of them. …


Cliff Watson

Proprietor, The House of Jackalope cliff@thehouseofjackalope.com

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